The life of YouTube


YouTube, a well-known video-sharing website, with a viewership of 2 billion views per day and 7 billion hours of video-watching in a month, which uses content comprising of video clips, TV clips, music videos, educational content and the more recent use – Video Blogging makes it the most viewed platform in the history of video-watching. The true size of YouTube is truly mind-blowing. It is the third-most visited site and the second largest search engine on the internet

The Story of YouTube

Three ambitious employees from PayPal went on to change the rules of video-watching namely, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim.

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The initial idea was to create a video-dating website called Tune In Hookup which, by the looks of it, did not really take off feasibly. One day, Jawed Karim hoped to find a video of Janet Jackson’s concert and in vain, an inevitable history-changing idea emerged. They realised there was a market demand for online video-watching and they later modified Tune In Hookup thus, to, YouTube. The birthdate of this ginormous website is February 14th, 2005 where it was invented in a small room above a Pizza shop in California.

The first video to be uploaded was one of Jawed Karim at the Zoo! And in the real sense, it was a Video Blog back in the times when the technicalities of the video were amateur and was shot and uploaded on April 23rd, 2005. From a home video to a Nike Ad, the first company to recognise YouTube’s market potential, uploaded a football/soccer advertisement in September 2005 which also was its first 10 million views video.

In June 2006, NBC and YouTube struck a deal among a Media Company and a platform that was on its fast-rise to its glory where no one knew that they would catch the attention of the now giant, Google. During which, the website had already stated that 65,000 videos were being uploaded every day and they were receiving 100 million views per day.

Following which, in October 2006, YouTube was acquired for a whopping price of 1.6 billion dollars rightfully claiming YouTube as “The next step in the evolution of Internet” which was quite a bold statement to be made as Google, at the time, only housed 65 employees. Rightfully so, YouTube only kept growing and was the fastest growing website on the internet and has never looked back ever since.

May 2007, YouTube introduced its first Partnership Program, wherein Google decided to play advertisements and official channels to live-stream the events such as the Olympics, US Presidential Elections, concerts or even Royal Weddings.

YouTube, yet again influenced world history by using Social Media as a platform during the 2011 Arab Spring, thus by playing a disseminating role in portraying, forwarding and showcasing messages of freedom and Democracy across the world.

Over time, this network enabled regular people to turn their lives into a business from their home or office. Before this idea, who knew that regular people would be earning 6-figure incomes with the help of YouTube.

Credit: crazy-lunar-girl.deviantart.com

Credit: crazy-lunar-girl.deviantart.com

The Partnership Program as introduced by YouTube, let people get paid for their viral content and mostly, “YouTubers” the term that was coined for people who regularly upload videos of genuine content and nature, they in turn get paid through Premium Ads. YouTube selects YouTubers who it wants to share revenue with. They study a user’s work, uploads, genuine content, potential and approach them to join the Program where they present options to choose from. All YouTube Partnership Program clients are given rights, obligations, terms of service and suggestions to help improve their market. Right down to demographics and approach etc. These ads are based on viewership basis.

YouTube has also diversified their program and have included YouTube Channels that let the users upload their original videos and in turn based on their popularity, revenue is created. This method is most common with YouTubers who make viral videos and uploads on various topics which viewers can easily relate to or feel the need to know. This approach has created YouTube Celebrities and this number continues to grow.

3. Technical Features

Software: Initially, YouTube had started with an Adobe FlashPlayer Plug In. By 2010, web browsers supporting HTML 5 allowed videos to be played without Adobe installation. Browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari 8 and Internet Explorer. Forthwith, uses Adobe Dynamic Streaming for Flash.

Uploads and Quality: 15 minute uploads are granted to all users, although further extensions to time would be granted to those with a good record with the website.

Formats like .AVI, .MKV, .MOV, .MP4, .DivX, .FLV, .ogg, .ogv including video formats such as MPEG-4, MPEG, VOB and more so, YouTube’s journey from resolution quality from 240 pixels to higher quality resolutions is worth mentioning. Since 2006, till recently, YouTube offers screen width options alongside resolutions. Subsequent changes in audio formats were also made from Mono Mp3 audio to AAC respectively.

YouTube also effectively offers 3D quality of picture viewing. The anaglyph method which enables viewer to wear 3D glasses was introduced in 2009. In 2010, 4K that is, 4000 pixels was launched in YouTube, one among the first platforms alongside Amazon and Netflix.

4. Authorisation, Copyrights and Licenses

YouTube had its fair share of issues when it came to authorisation of content being played on the website and legal cases followed suit. Over time, YouTube has tried to restrict the nature of the uploads that take place on a daily basis.

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Content ID for detecting videos that infringe copyrights to avoid claims of Piracy and originality or the least, authorisation.

In this case, YouTube either informs the owner of their content being used which could either be used as a great marketing tactic or they can even make the content not viewable or advertisements are inserted in the video. Videos of unlimited length are also monitored with this method.

Terms of Service are maintained and made aware of when a user signs in to YouTube, it clearly states the rights to remove any videos not adhering to the terms of authorisation or privacy policy. Original content is vastly encouraged failing of which, YouTube has strict rules and conditions for its users. Legal contracts are encouraged when the site is used for marketing or commercial purposes.

Uploaders are made responsible for their own content, licenses and agreements with third parties that they would use. Certain loopholes have been created that render operations but YouTube has been evolving dynamically with time.

5. Accessibility and Platforms

2007 onwards, the world saw YouTube introduce quite a few features such as embedding videos on other websites using HTML embedding and links between videos which led to linked access to user’s favourite videos.

As if it was not enough on computer screens, YouTube Mobile was launched in 2007 and using RTP, this application enables viewers to stream videos on their smartphones including Apple products and Android Software without having to use Adobe Flash Player for the former. As per GlobalWebIndex, YouTube is viewed on 35% of smartphone devices rating it as the third most used App.

Post 2009, YouTube was made available on Television sets with internet accessibility and allowed videos to be played on PlayStation, Wii consoles, XBoxLive, Roku and Nintendo 3DS, thus making the average gamer in touch with the world and multi-tasking in activities and therefore, increasing its viewership tremendously.

6. Monetization

So, how does YouTube earn? How do Youtubers or Advertisers earn with YouTube?

After the launch of YouTube’s Partnership Program in 2007, their major earnings began with advertisements, based on the same principle as Google. The ads were first introduced in 2007 on the lower part of a page on YouTube panning for about 15 seconds and this led the world to know how money was made on this popular website. Advertisers pay good sum of money to get in front of the large audience that YouTube has. These ads are targeted as per the demographics of location, age, gender and age thus targeting on their interests. The Metadata, that lets the advertisers align and position their content on a page leads to making more money effectively.

Simultaneously, for YouTubers, an uploader of a video would earn by advertising on the site. Approximately, 45% of the advertising revenue goes to YouTube and simultaneously 55% to the uploader. There are easily over a million members of this Program. Works similar to a TV network model, the higher the advertiser pays to get recognized, the higher they earn from YouTube.

Moneytization

With YouTube becoming more mainstream post 2009, Channels were added on YouTube that are authorised owners of content uploaded. Music Channels, News Channels, Government parties to name a few, all had their pages where genuine content was available for view and it led to the popularity of subscription channels and YouTube rentals that answered many questions and met requirements when it came to maintaining loyalty of their viewers. Though YouTube was mostly known for the availability of content and the vast majority it catered to, they never disappointed their Partners when it came to making money.

What an average viewer sees is the product an advertiser shows online. The percentage of earnings is matched up according to the viewer with a careful system, calculation method and options that a marketer is given when they enter the Partnership Program.

Panning on an average of $2 per 1000 views of content for its uploaders, the engaging content that leads viewers to watch the ads lets advertisers earn with this program. YouTube ads, managed by Adwords Platform, lets advertisers earn based on Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost Per View (CPV) model.

Cost Per Click – an advertiser pays money based on clicks where certain keywords of a value, when a viewer clicks on that ad, the money goes to the advertiser. The text ads are the ones that show up on the bottom part of the screen or on the right side of the video.

Cost Per View – an advertiser gets paid based on the number of views their ad gets.

The whole structure how a person types in keywords to search for a particular video and hours later has wandered onto various topics related or unrelated to their initial interest is all calculated, manipulated and portrayed by the Partnership Program. The idea is to match up the viewer’s requirement thereby adding in suggestions and widening a person’s search and interests.

7. Growth and Controversies

With rising awareness among viewers, a growing demand and a whole new market was created to let people into the YouTube world. Relevant information is provided and is viewed as a platform to make a difference around the globe.

Localization of YouTube was established around 2007 and the interface is available across 75 countries and in 63 languages along with a worldwide version.

Channels are constantly growing in number and versatility. April 2011 saw the launch of Live Streaming on YouTube. The Elections, Olympics, Government speeches and debates, Sports, the Royal weddings, various events can all be available as is the situation occurs. Political activists rely on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter to send their message across to the masses. Similarly, protestors discovered a platform to voice their opinion and the world watched. Synchronously, “Welebrities” are born and successfully make a following of their own.

Community Guidelines: YouTube is serious about original content and in more ways than one, encouraging people towards freedom of innovation and creativity also led criticism to arise toward YouTube. Google and YouTube established Community Guideline to curtail the issues of hate speeches, defamation, criminal content, racism, bullying, acts of violence, pornography, injustice etc. when a large part of the aggression was channeled towards the website for showing controversial topics.

YoutubeAc

YouTube on one hand effectively supports freedom of speech and independence and due to the huge volume of content uploaded on a regular basis, it relies mainly on viewers to avoid and restrict controversies through Community Guidelines. In this aspect, YouTube gives the viewer the right to approach the channel or uploader about particular arguable matters failing which, they can report or flag the content as inappropriate. Google and YouTube work together to determine if it violates the site’s Terms of Service and take a decision accordingly whether to remove or ask the owner to make changes so as to avoid any confusion.

Most videos enable User Comments as a platform to express their interest or assessment of the material displayed. Obscenity or hatred occurs for as much as freedom of thought and expression. YouTube makes it a point to raise responsibility and awareness when these events occur.

Censorship, Filtration or Blocking of content is followed which allows YouTube or Google to make any changes if the matter doesn’t comply with their guidelines. Matters of concern on the lines of religious or political hatred or matters of copyright and licenses are being dealt with constantly. Several times, different countries have/had also blocked YouTube on matters of political misleading, sexually explicit content or religious differences. These countries include Iran, Thailand, China, Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Libya, Russia, Bangladesh, Sudan etc.

8. Social Impact

YouTube plays a vital role in impacting, shaping and educating the world about manifold matters across the globe resulting in shrinking the world into a screen. There are innumerable ways YouTube has overwhelmed us to look at the world in a different light.

Educational Awareness:
Khan

Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, started the video tutoring sessions for his cousin on YouTube way back in 2006 when the schools in India were all about textbooks and teachers. The Khan Academy channel has over 65,000 videos and has won many awards and has been recognised by many celebrities and organisations such as Bill Gates, US department of education, Carlos Slim Foundation and has won many awards for taking this initiative and has been supported by Google and YouTube along the way.

Many such channels and “how-to’s” have been recorded and are now a favourite for viewers to watch a video to gain relevant information on various topics and fields. Many educational institutions and NGO’s recognise YouTube as one of their main sources of information when it comes to educating or training themselves or their employees. Companies also publish their strategies and information online so that they can be available to aspiring workers or students and they have helped gain global exposure effectively.

There has been marginal increase in knowledge gained through growing Visual IQ records. Scientific researches and experiments are available outside of a laboratory which was the case since years.

TED curator Chris Anderson has stated that “video contributors may be about to launch the biggest learning cycle in human history.

Political Awareness:

askobama

Live streaming and Collaboration with News Channels enabled the government to recognise and interact better with their citizens as well as, letting citizens know the truth and lives of their politicians and leaders. CNN was among the first News Channels in US to utilise YouTube’s resources to their advantage of letting the Presidential Candidates interact with the masses via YouTube. The Vatican in early 2009 and US political elections had taken to the virtual streets of YouTube to disseminate information through video. US President Obama had joined YouTube Community to impart and educate his fellow citizens about ObamaCare. Foreign Policy was influenced and zoomed into with viral videos of the terrorists around the world, the army shooting down civilians on the streets, political leaders behavior being scrutinized online, debates and speeches dissected to each word. Activists and protesters around the world recognize the power of YouTube in expressing and shaping opinion around the world.

Various political leaders’ lives opened up in front of their people and they were able to humanize and observe the doings of their politicians and these leaders found a platform to interact and open up to their supporters or in that case, protestors to assess on their own. The public was welcoming to their tech-savvy leaders and it all played a major role during elections and candidacy.

Impact on Journalism:

Whether it be the Arab Spring in 2010 or the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, or the truth behind the face of US in the Iraq War or the behaviour of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib, Visual Journalism has been a major part of the News Channels and YouTube was merely a giant step toward taking journalism and reporting into the hands of the civilians and the common public. According to a study, 51% of the news produced by news organisations comprises of 39% content generated from uploaders. This led to communication and understanding between citizens and News Channels.

YouTube journalism has a direct impact on world events and they can help in conveying messages of aid, donation, charity, reporting against discrimination, torture, political unrest etc. Many a times, political governments has often been displeased with the opinions or paradoxical mockery of their leaders expressed online and have had to interfere with the activities and took actions against users who posted these videos.

Alternatively, staging scenarios have also been a habit of malicious individuals and parties in order to influence the minds of the viewers and often times, they have succeeded. The general public even though learns from online media but also has been the victim of confusion and have been misled into believing what is not true or what is partially true. And the world feeds off of this emotion entirely when it comes to putting the blame onto someone for not complying with the rules. Many videos on YouTube expressing confusion and agony and frustration have led to protests and change in a few situations. Online media has also been a source of eyeballing through events and dissecting every move, every word of the news and people connected and this has always thrown off the public. It creates and strengthens the sect of a non-believer when they cannot find the truth in a matter.

The strive, the effort to search for the truth and individuals take matters into their own with the power of smartphones and cameras today and YouTube nourishes this emotion tremendously.

Personal Impact:

Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt has stated that,

“YouTube is bigger than Television”, rightfully so, YouTube has been the face of the public where regular talent has not only been recognised eg, Justin Beiber, there have been many success stories of ‘YouTube Stars” being created where the nerdy, geeky teens who sat in front of the computer, came to be known across the world for making it in the virtual world. Vlogging or Video Blogging took off and as part of YouTube’s Partnership Program, youngsters and people who hide behind their computer or mobile screens got paid from home. This revolution was welcome all over the world where YouTubers uploaded videos and original content and got paid and recognised. In many ways, YouTube has given employment and recognition to millions of people for their creativity and talent.

Over the years, YouTube Stars have gained popularity from simple things such as uploading videos about clothes, personal grooming, cooking, musical talents, unboxing a product, simple daily videos to mere ranting on screen. Events have been organised by the “YouTube Community” for bringing people together who watch, subscribe, follow and like videos of YouTubers of their choice. YouTube Symphony Orchestra was the first ever online collaborated orchestra where auditions were conducted by viewing YouTube videos and winners were chosen, who mostly amateurs were invited to perform at the Carnegie Hall, New York in 2009.

October 2010, was the year YouTube was flourishing with supporters of “It Gets Better” Project, initiated by columnist Dan Savage. This project dealt with voicing the opinions of the LGBTQ community who felt bullied or ostracized because of their sexuality. This movement created immense awareness and changed the opinions of a lot of people around the world into accepting and lifting the minorities of society.

ItGetsBetter

Similar campaigns have started and are criticized or supported though counted as promotion, has led to teens and individuals taking chances and expressing themselves before a screen and a general non-judgemental attitude has been established around the world.

Every year, events and meet-and-greets, such as YouTube Fan Fests, YouTube Awards, are held which let the viewers interact with their favourite YouTube Celebrities. YouTubers’ subscribers have flown off the charts and this happens when a certain uploader’s contents and videos are liked by the viewers and they in turn subscribe to their channels to be up-to-date with their life and activities. PewDiePie, Smosh, Jenna Marbles, Bethany Mota, Superwoman etc. to name a few. With rising popularity, these self-made celebrities are made a part of viewers’ lives and they in turn owe their success to their loyal fans.

9. Advertising

Corporate world: YouTube as we see it, did not necessarily have to shell millions to marketing agencies to create a market or to be known. It created a need for video search engines and with its compatibility across all sorts of file formats, it grew with the popularity of the need to be heard and seen and contribute. Neither did they need celebrities to market their service. YouTube took off in a humble manner and was accepted by the regular public and this was a platform where all the classes of people were on one single level.

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YouTube has introduced various ways to companies and organisation in association with it. Ads, creating channels, video promotions, and various others which have seemed to be successful revenue – generating methods.

More mediums of social media have also learned to coexist in this virtual world. It is most common for companies to look into the social background of their employees via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube in order to understand them better. Collaborations among social media companies was established. Individuals made profiles across all social media to get known and connect with others. Research companies relied on YouTube and various other mediums to conduct studies and experiments and verify statistics. Internet demands were to be met to keep up with streaming requirements and bandwidth changes were made to accommodate in network carriers and internet service providers. Terms like high speed internet, 3G and 4G internet, newer models of software and smartphones were favoured to stay connected faster all across the world.

YouTube also gave companies to market their products or service another channel to reach the public eye. It was an added medium to be known and much like commercials in the TV era, ads on YouTube became popular so much so that viewers searched for ads and followed companies to keep up with their products or service. New and innovative means were adopted to stay accustomed to the world of YouTube. It also gave equal chance to small and big firms equally to be known to their viewers.

Typically, for a product or service to be known or recognised, companies have had to advertise and promote it shelling millions to make it known in the local and international market. With YouTube, this process was made easier to reach the educated masses. For a concept to stay in the viewer’s mind, visual approach was adapted to its maximum potential. Companies, brands, services and products got into the minds of the viewers and repetitive reinforcement, let the concept remain etched in the viewer’s mind thus making it easier to be known.

Similarly, with the wide fan base of YouTube celebs, companies both big and small approach these simpletons to review and market their products to their followers. This has turned out to be a popular phenomenon with negative and positive marketing both working in the marketer’s favour. Video makers have found a vast and eager audience to showcase anything ‘new in the market’. Companies send their products over to the YouTubers and they watch the reaction and make changes if necessary and this gives them another chance to correct any mistakes before spending money on marketing professionally. Fans and viewers appreciate an honest review and it turns out profitable to everyone involved in the process.

Showcasing to a wider audience:

YouTube worked as a wide medium to let marketers reach their customers on a much wider level. Large production companies, undiscovered talent and artists, aspiring job-seekers were given recognition by visually marketing themselves. To permeate the entertainment industry, YouTube approached many big media houses to partner with them to promote authenticity. Music labels were initially weary of this website but they soon learned of the new strategies to earn their money losses to piracy. YouTube’s Partnership Program led music companies earn a great deal from viewership of the masses. YouTube and Vivendi came together to form VEVO, the music video service.

Personal fan loyalty was discovered by TV and movie celebrities who could connect with the general public. This was another platform other than Facebook to seem more “human” to the public eye. Fans liked to relate to their celebrities and YouTube enabled this factor tremendously. By 2013, Billboard had announced that it was using YouTube to calculate the Billboard Hot 100 and other genre charts.

2006 saw Entertainment industry bustling with newcomers and casting agents and record companies were searching YouTube to find their undiscovered star. It is not uncommon when a YouTube video would have a big hit, it was inevitable to get recognised by the bigwigs of the industry. By 2007, it was common strategy for amateur artistes to make their way into the entertainment world. The famous singer Usher had discovered Justin Bieber who went on to become a ginormous Pop sensation across the world.

TV celebrities to be known to the internet world was first started by NBC to be the first to join hands with YouTube and it was easier for viewers to gain access to their favourite shows. By 2013, a large number of people had started to upload old VHS tapes onto YouTube and all the shows of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s are all available online. This enabled all those people who were reluctant to adapt to new technology to stay connected to their younger times.

Creativity and Innovation:

YouTube opened up many more areas and facets of interests for those who tried to get famous. New and creative ways of video – making are adopted each day. There is no such thing as “leave it to the professionals”. By encouraging small talent and for anyone with basic education, YouTube led the world into a more efficient and responsible time. Creative houses and filming sets are created for YouTube stars to shoot in and for the general public, the world is their stage. Making a movie or recording a song is no longer a tedious task. With sponsors and talent companies on the rise, these striving video-makers also get to try their hands at production, editing, special effects and direction.

Innovative technologies have been established by involving the regular masses in the invention of products and services where the scientists, companies and corporate houses can stay connected to their loyal customers in order to introduce something new. Reviews and feedbacks are a much easier task without having to deal with call centres or customer care.

YouTube has succeeded in shrinking the world and expanding the different sides of life all across the virtual and living world.

10. YouTube Facts and Figures

  • There are about 6 billion Hours of Video watched on YouTube per month
  • Over 4 Billion videos are viewed everyday
  • 300 hours per minute of videos are uploaded
  • 1 billion average YouTube Mobile Videos are watched everyday
  • 81.9% of teens use YouTube
  • Most Searched for topic on YouTube is “Music” followed by “Minecraft”
  • Top most earning YouTube Channel is “DisneyCollectionBR”
  • 40% of YouTube traffic is from Mobiles
  • YouTube’s Top most Channel Partner is VEVO
  • There is 27% growth for the YouTube Mobile App every year
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • Saudi Arabia is the country with the highest number of views of approximately 90 million views per day
  • Electronics is the most viewed industry on YouTube
  • Youtube is also known to have some of the best offices around the world
  • Youtube has conducted several April Fools Pranks on their users including some where the screen has tilted 180 degrees and mostly fans have enjoyed each, confused many and agitated some
  • 345 Fortune 500 companies have their own YouTube Channel
  • Gangnam Style has been the most viewed video ever with over 2 billion views

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