As we entered 2012, YouTube was already established as the platform for viral content, with the likes of Nyan Cat, Rebecca Black’s Friday, and the Honey Badger surfacing in 2011.
In the final part of this 'Evolution of YouTube' series, I look at 'The New Wave' - 2012 right through to the present day.
It should come as no surprise that YouTube can be the ultimate source when considering that in 2012, the site saw 60 hours worth of video uploaded every minute. A large part of this had to do with the ever-growing gaming channels of which were now finding popularity. The videos you tend to find on such channels involve people playing through entire games and commenting throughout that length of time. The time ranging anywhere from five minutes to multiple hours.
Due to these types of videos, YouTube’s algorithm changed in 2012. Moving from view-based statistics to a system that was geared towards watch times. Though, this didn’t hide the fact that the first video to ever hit one billion views came out at the end of the year, entitled Gangnam Style . A stepping stone for the website.
Throughout this period of time, the amount of success that could be held in YouTube was truly beginning to shine. Creators were making well over six digit figures and their fame was more than apparent. So much so that conventions like VidCon were set up in order for audiences to meet with their favourite YouTubers.
By the end of 2012, the internet had unequivocally become the marketplace of the future.
Much of what will be discussed from this point on still holds relevance. As I see it, around the time of 2013 - when the decade and generation had already begun shaping itself - a new internet wave came into the picture. Rolling in with prevalence to much of what goes on in pop culture. We are living in the era of fast-beat entertainment. The internet has moved far past the threshold of what once-was and now reveals to us a form of enjoyment that’s still rather new.
The popularity of applications such as Vine gives us a solid look into this matter. With only six seconds to record, creators were forced to spit out as much entertainment as possible in such a small space of time. Vine coincides well with YouTube. Especially, as you notice all the “Vine compilation” videos the site hosts. The modern generation holds all-the-same desire to be entertained, but we want to be entertained quickly.
The way YouTube videos are being created accord to this form of entertainment. It’s changing so instantly, in fact, that much (but not all) of the creators mentioned in earlier parts lost a sum of their fame. And a new wave of creators are taking this platform by storm.
In an example, around the timeframe of 2014 to 2016, there was a rapid increase of prank-related videos uploaded to YouTube. Immediately, the entire concept of ‘prank videos’ became a marketing tool for creators. Some of which go beyond the limits of society. Others faking it in order to go beyond said limits. Prank videos became so prevalent at one point that there were channels created just to criticize the matter.
The majority of these pranks found popularity through FaceBook. Most of the time, the best snippet of the video would appear in your news feed. If it’s intriguing enough, you may have the urge to see what else the host has to offer. I mentioned going beyond the limits of society because a lot of these pranks have made their money by setting up situations you’d only wish to witness through your everyday stranger. For example, seeing a group of people destroying a car with Donald Trump apparel over it. When something as such appears on someone’s FaceBook news feed, naturally, they’re going to be intrigued.
This new wave of entertainment can be observed when looking into studies such as comScore.com. A database of statistics with the most recent internet trends. According to their site, the majority of the millennial generation (ages 18 to 34) prefers watching YouTube in contrast to traditional television. When compared to anyone 35 or older, millennials daily binge-watch the site’s content for about triple the amount of time. The study concludes that the future of video content is heading for the realm of deep emotional engagement. This commitment happens through sourcing out a variety of content within a sluggishly large amount of time.
Daily vlogging has also become a very popular trend inside the YouTube community for this reason. Being that the audience is looking for fresh content on a daily basis, those posting videos that often are finding a market. Even though they’re forced to put in a large amount of effort just to keep themselves relevant. Often, they must grasp emotion by revealing deeply personal moments of their lives on camera. If this is rare for a vlogger, certain personalities have been known to fake these moments in order to keep people interested. Many of your everyday strangers are finding publicity in the simplicity of showing off their everyday lives. And just like prank videos, daily vlogs have become another strong marketing tool on YouTube.
With the beginning of this decade, the site found itself in the direction of business. Nowadays, we are witnessing how creators are conforming to this direction. The trends of pranks and daily vlogs have made an overabundance in appearance. So much so that I’m in a position where I can list several other popular trends within YouTube (such as compilations, Top Tens, and children’s content). All of which links to the same marketing strategies and financial potentials. The platform that was once for the individual is now up for business.
It’s important to remember that these trends are still relatively new. Their seed was only planted in February of 2005. The business-platform that has become YouTube is only starting to root. And where it will blossom has yet to be seen.
These articles were written for those looking into the future of the internet. Seeing where ‘trends’ and social media will take us as entrepreneurs and a society. If we compare what television did for people over the period of fifty years, we can only imagine how far a website like YouTube may go.
By Paul James, freelance journalist
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