According to Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan, news viewership in YouTube surged by 75 percent in recent weeks compared to the same time last year. This is because millions of people are relying on the video-sharing platform to search for news updates about the COVID-19 pandemic.
YouTube is considered as the most popular video platform around the world. This platform has become even more popular now that the world is facing a pandemic. People around the world are staying in their homes for safety. For this reason, the video-sharing site was able to attract parents who are looking for children’s content, consumers who are looking for news, and even those who are looking for entertainment.
YouTube, which is part of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, reaches over two billion viewers per month. In addition, it had a notable traffic surge ever since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Mohan said that one of the largest surges went to videos that YouTube classifies as news. He also added that people are trying to consume as much information as they can about this crisis. This pandemic is top of mind for everybody. However, he did not share the exact number of views.
YouTube Catching Up To Google
This video platform is the second largest search engine after its parent company Google. It is also the world’s largest online video hub. The company behind YouTube ranks medical videos and news based on their authoritativeness. It uses a combination of automation and human evaluators. However, it does not share the ranking scores to the public.
On videos that mention the virus, YouTube started running an information panel that is linked to health agencies. According to Mohan, such videos have been viewed more than 10 billion times. In addition, YouTube also integrated a tab on its homepage where it features news videos about the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the COVID-19 virus spreads, YouTube had to face and confront misleading and outright false videos as well. Such videos are a persistent problem for the video-sharing platform.
Increasing Views on YouTube Means More Moderation
So far, YouTube has already removed thousands of videos, which according to the company, violated the platform’s policies on disinformation related to the virus. Moreover, YouTube has repeatedly adjusted these policies. It restricted videos promoting a conspiracy theory that ties the virus to 5G networks. It also took down videos that might encourage people to go against stay at home orders. In addition, the company noted that it is now removing videos associated with #filmyourhospital. This hashtag is a social media misinformation campaign put up to convince people that the virus is a hoax. It encourages people yo film apparently empty hospitals located near them. Its aim is to “prove” that there aren’t thousands of critically infected patients who are confined in hospitals across the US.
According to Mohan, they are staying as vigilant as possible. The YouTube executive also noted that new policies for the platform will stay intact once the pandemic subsides.
Youtube is Updating Its Platform’s Guidelines Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic
Mohan noted that the video-sharing platform has been officially updating the platform’s guidelines throughout the pandemic. The company has added the aforementioned examples to its misinformation policies. In addition, YouTube has also significantly tweaked its policy for sensitive events.
Due to the unknown duration COVID-19 pandemic, the video-sharing platform has made a rare exception to its policy regarding sensitive events. The said policy demonetizes video content that features tragedies such as natural disasters, shootings, as well as pandemics. However, there is also an exception to this policy. This exception permits partner creators to monetize some videos about the pandemic. Meaning, it is likely that a part of those 75 percent more views are earning AdSense for creators.
However, Bloomberg noted that views on news content, as well as views on the ads on that news content, might be rising. But the amount of money that the company is earning from digital ads is decreasing.
In addition, YouTube has also warned its creators of moderation changes related to the pandemic. The company has also announced the coming policy enforcement changes as its response to COVID-19.
Getting More Views is The Biggest Priority
According to the video-sharing platform, the company will prioritize the health of its employees. For this reason, the platform will temporarily rely less on human moderators in terms of reviewing content uploaded to the site. This means that the company will begin to rely heavily on its automated review systems.
In a statement, the company said that its COmmunity Guidelines enforcement is currently a combination of technology and people. Machine learning aids in detecting potentially harmful content. The harmful content detected will then be sent to human reviewers for assessment. However, as a result of the new measures that the company is taking, YouTube will temporarily rely on technology in terms of reviewing content. Meaning, some content will be removed without human review. This will be done for the company to continue taking down violative content while protecting the safety of its employees.
In addition to the increase in YouTube’s automated moderation systems, there will also be temporary changes due to the pandemic. YouTube said that it will be more cautious in terms of promoting content like live streams. There will also be instances when content will not appear on search results or recommendations until it has been reviewed.
YouTube’s Marketing Clients Cut their Advertising Budgets
Despite the significant surge in views, YouTube has seen a drop in advertising spending just like other big online platforms. This happened as many of the company’s marketing clients slashed their budgets for advertisement amid the pandemic. However, Mohan declined to discuss how this drop in advertising spending will change the company’s sales.
YouTube has also been one of the leading sources of entertainment for people who are locked down inside their homes as the virus proliferates. Aside from news videos, there are billions of videos on the platform that serves as people’s past time. Still, news videos are the ones that showed a significant surge in views.