YouTube is the most popular video-sharing platform in the world. Every hour, users upload hundreds of hours worth of video. One of the challenges that YouTube faces is choosing which content is shown in search results and which videos they recommend to someone who is watching something on the platform. Last week, it was discovered that YouTube updated its algorithm in July, and the changes hurt some content creators with kid-themed channels.
Online platforms often update their algorithms to deliver a better experience to users and to address problems with the platform. YouTube is frequently the target of criticism for the videos their algorithm chooses for a particular audience. The update from July adjusted the algorithm, so it shows more content from kid-friendly sources.
Bloomberg reported on these algorithm updates and the effect they are having on certain channels. The Bloomberg article suggests that the changes were made to appease the FTC. Many of the creators affected by the shift espoused frustration that they were given no warning of the changes.
YouTube representatives confirmed the change in response to the article on Bloomberg. The company sent a statement which said, “We make hundreds of changes every year to make it easier for people to find what they want to watch on YouTube. We recently made one such change that improves the ability for users to find quality family content.”
As with any algorithm update for an internet platform, YouTube isn’t transparent about what has changed. Additionally, there are winners and losers from this change. Some channels that made content for kids saw their traffic plummet in the last month, while others saw significant increases.
It’s difficult to pinpoint how the algorithm was changed, but Bloomberg notes that channels that were using “algorithmically generated videos” were some of the biggest losers. For example, channels that post nursery rhyme videos that are crafted to place high in search results saw their traffic decline. On the flip side, channels that feature a live child and parent saw their audiences grow in the past month.
This dynamic suggests that YouTube is punishing channels that it feels produces low-quality content that’s designed to game the algorithm. Just like its parent company, YouTube can’t allow their system to be easily manipulated. When people can create low-quality content that ranks well, it hurts the entire platform. Good content gets suppressed by those using spammy tactics, and if the platform seems filled with poor-quality videos, people will spend less time on YouTube.
If a channel has been affected by the algorithm update, it’s a sign that the channel should review the community guidelines and determine what they can do to make their content better for kids. Creators don’t have to make educational videos, but the content needs to be more wholesome and should contain fewer manipulative title elements.
For more recent news about YouTube, read this article on a new way for channels to promote their YouTube live stream content with display ads on Google.