Generally, I use Youtube to watch three things: basketball, technology and comedy.
Check out my personalized Youtube homepage, which is full of basketball, technology and comedy:
This is good right? WRONG!
What they recommend isn’t very good. I don’t want to see videos of gadgets that are eons old like the Galaxy Note 3. I don’t want to watch basketball highlights from January. There’s a time aspect that makes these recommendations lousy.
But that’s just window dressing. These recommendations suck for a more fundamental reason — Youtube is taking what I search for and making that the core of my discovery process. I don’t want Youtube to do that. I know how to get what I already know I want (search). What I need help on is finding good videos that I don’t know about (discovery). Make sense? No?
Let’s say you’re thinking about buying the Sony Xperia Z2 phone. So you Google it and get the information you’re looking for. Does this mean you want your news reader to be filled with Sony Xperia Z2 articles? Heck no! Google is about search; news readers are about discovery; and the two need not mix.
Youtube is making discovery dependent on search, which is just a dumb thing to do.
Guess what happens when Youtube doesn’t do that? Something a LOT better:
Bam! Now this is more like it. Basketball highlights about the playoffs, which are happening right now? Yes please. What happens when you boil Coke? Dang, I’d never bother to search for that, but now that you ask I don’t mind clicking through to get the answer.
This is the Youtube homepage when you visit incognito; i.e., when Youtube doesn’t know what you’ve searched for. It’s so much better. Looking at this page, there are so many more videos I would like to click on.
If I was in charge of Youtube, I would make this everyone’s Youtube homepage. To personalize it, ask users to select what categories they’d like to see more of and then recommend videos on that basis. I would most certainly de-link search from discovery.
What users search for is NOT necessarily what they’d like to see all the time.
4 thoughts on “Know what’s better than Youtube’s personalized homepage? The un-personalized one”
I think a mix of the two would probably be most beneficial. I mean yeah, you don’t want month old videos clogging up your feed, or videos only directly related to the things you search, but you do want things that are of interest to you in your feed as well. For example, I haven’t been amused by ERB in a long, long, long time, and yet that is in the non-profile feed which is what you suggest should replace the current one. Now imagine this, you look up reviews on multiple different phones, we’ll say the Z2 the 5s and the 930, the next day in your feed a new video from only a few days ago shows up on the HTC One M8. It pertains to your search, but it isn’t something you a.) already searched b.) is outdated c.) is something you theoretically might not have known about. A feed composed of broad subjects pertaining to specific videos you watched and searched. Its similar to the “discovery process” (as you put it) in most music streaming services. You listen to a wide variety of songs, whichever genres show up most in your playlists, show up in your recommendations. This way you aren’t stuck with the latest pop songs and stuff like ERB or Tobuscas popping up in your recommendation feed.
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Hi John, thanks for your comment! The downside to the approach you outlined above is, what if the housewife who’s not really interested in technology purchased her phone, and then no longer wants any phone videos on her feed? It’s really tough for Youtube to algorithmically decide that. Maybe a better way is for it to be user initiated; i.e. a button to tap that indicates, “Yes I want the topic I searched to be added to my news feed.” Of course opt in means it’s less likely to happen, but in this day and age I argue it’s not so much quantity of content that matters but quality; so if there should be a bias which way it should be the latter not the former.
Well that’s why these feeds are decided by account searches, and not by all of the searches done on the device, that way each feed is personalized and is universal across all devices. I do like your opt in idea however, sounds like a great idea, though it would be difficult for youtube to have every niche topic available. It’s a tricky situation.
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The powers at YouTube don’t give a damn about quality or content, just clicks. Nothing will change until the clicks subside. What I do instead is watch videos in a private window so it never registers with the stupid recommendations nonsense.