MrBeast explains YouTube’s algorithm – TechCrunch
At first VidCon since 2019, YouTube‘s top earner in the United States, MrBeast, took the stage to talk to YouTube’s Chief Discovery Officer, Todd Beaupré, about one of the biggest questions creators care about: how video actually works. recommendation algorithm?
“There’s actually a bunch of monkeys in a room,” joked Beaupré, addressing an audience of hundreds of creators crammed into every empty seat.
The creators can’t wait to crack the code for YouTube’s recommendation engine, but if you ask MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, investing in a short video is a tangible way to up your content game right now.
“The short form is here to stay and will only get bigger and bigger,” Donaldson said. “If you don’t do it now, you should.”
Both Beaupré and Donaldson were bullish on YouTube Shorts, the company’s growing TikTok competitor. Even with 1.5 billion people watching YouTube’s short videos, Beaupré said the company is only in “first round” with the product and encouraged creators to create long and short content.
Donaldson also pointed out that shorts are a way to direct money to a creator’s main channel, where they can upload longer content. The YouTube team is currently working on how to train the algorithm to differentiate viewing habits on short films from standard YouTube downloads.
Beaupré also noted that more people are streaming live on YouTube now. “It’s more of a simultaneous experience,” he said, noting that it’s easier to feel connected to a community on live video. He also noted that while mobile devices are the most popular way to watch YouTube videos, the fastest way to watch YouTube is through TV. So, creators need to make sure their content looks great on the big screen.
Of course, the “algorithm” is much more complicated than uploading longer or shorter videos. YouTube uses deep learning AI to model how viewers consume content. If someone loves both MrBeast and a Minecraft creator, what else could they love? If they like a Minecraft streamer, would they watch another popular YouTuber with similar content?
“At the end of the day, everything this Things is trying at figure out What is that the video you are go be more interested in look, that youwe are go love,” said Beaupré, who has worked at YouTube for eight years. He added that YouTube’s goal, of course, is to get people excited to come back and continue watching YouTube videos tomorrow.
But not all creators are MrBeast, with nearly 100 million subscribers.
“When I was a small channel, the videos I made sucked,” admitted Donaldson. “When I meet small creators, my advice is to just create 100 videos and improve one thing for each video.” Basically, the King of YouTube argues that good content will rise to the top.
If it were that simple, however, he might not be addressing a room of eager creators clinging to his every word to learn how to grow their audience.
“We care about small creators. We actually have teams that are dedicated to making sure small creators can still break through on YouTube,” Beaupré said. He explained that a video’s title and description only offer a limited amount of information to the recommendation algorithm. If you know a video is about Minecraft, that’s not enough to know who to recommend it to. But how viewers interact with the video is more of a determinant of whether the algorithm serves the video to more people.
Understand the algorithm
In all of YouTube’s analytics, Donaldson said he pays the most attention to retention rate, noting where viewers drop out and how that data can inform his future videos. He thinks that when it comes to audience engagement, the algorithm will prioritize something harder to accomplish – for example, getting 70% retention on a 30-minute video is harder than to get millions of views.
“Make the video as long as necessary,” Beaupré said. He said creators often try to lengthen their videos because they think it will make them recommended by the algorithm, but if people don’t watch the video enough, it would be counterproductive.
“I’ve never seen anything that says videos have to be longer. Just make videos people want to watch,” Donaldson said.
Additionally, he pointed out that every few years he goes back and updates the thumbnails of some old videos to clarify what the video is about.
“It usually helps a lot – we see a slight increase,” he said. He said he usually draws thumbnails before making his videos. “I’d rather have this existential crisis before I do the video.”
When asked what metrics he thinks creators are focusing too much on, Donaldson urged creators to prioritize better storytelling instead of only worrying about messing with the algorithm.
Beaupré noted that whenever people ask him questions about how to play with the algorithm — for example, what time to upload a video to get the most out of the algorithm — he encourages them to “replace ‘algorithm’ by ‘audience'”. position videos to perform for an algorithm, how can they perform better with an audience? If most of your audience is based in the US, for example, it probably wouldn’t be great to go live at 3 a.m. when most fans are asleep.
The YouTube executive also added that creators often ask him if the reaction to a video from subscribers determines its fate. But he said most of the videos are the most watched by non-subscribers – MrBeast said the same for his channels.
“If you watch 100 episodes of ‘SpongeBob’ and the 101st is ‘Adventure Time’, you’d think, what is that?” Donaldson said. “The same goes for your audience.” Beaupré assured the creators that if you pivot hard, it may take a little longer for your videos to gain traction, but that doesn’t mean they never will.
Asked about interesting trends on YouTube, Beaupré said that after the pandemic hit, he was surprised that more people became creators and more people started live streaming.
“I’m thrilled that everyone realized that the creator economy is a thing,” Beaupré said. “Welcome to the party, we’ve been doing this for a while!”