Tag Archives: Youtube

Is YouTube making a big mistake with ads in the middle of their videos?

YouTube is a free commercial entertainment platform, and like any other online free service they make money by displaying ads. And it’s not just the company itself, but talented and hard-working content creators who profit from this system. Watching a few seconds of ads before a video is, in my mind, an acceptable trade-off to be able to watch some pretty unique and interesting content.

But lately the ads have been moving from the beginning of a video to the middle of it. And I’m wondering if this is a mistake by YouTube. Sure, YouTube is making money this way, but what about the advertisers and content creators? Are they better of with ads in the middle of videos?

Of course, interupting content to display ads is nothing new – it’s how television has operated for decades. But there is a distinct difference in how it’s being done. On TV, ads are usually presented at standardized intervals. And they usually aren’t a surprise. Dramatic TV-shows are edited to create a natural break for ads, and other shows have narrators or presenters informing the audience that “we’ll be right back after these messages”. Most of us are aware of the oncoming ads long before they appear on screen, being in the bathroom or making a cup of coffee long before the first fast-food commercial is shown.

But there is no such natural breaks or smooth transitions to ads on YouTube. The commercials pop ut on screen more abruptly than a monster in a horror movie. They often start playing while the narrator or presenter in the video is in mid-sentence. They are abrupt and sudden breaks in the content you’re enjoying. And while YouTube makes money this way, I’m starting to wonder if the content creators and advertising companies are better off not having ads in the middle of any videos.

In behavioral psychology the term “negative punishment” refers to the removal of a positive stimulus, like a child having his toy taken away as punishment for a behavior. On YouTube, enjoying a video is a positive stimulus that is abruptly taken away by ads. In such a situation it’s easy for the human mind to make a connection between this punishment and the ad itself, or even the video.

This is part speculation on my part, but being an avid YouTube-watcher I’m starting to feel the effects of these ads. Certain companies, who’s ads have been shown frequently to me in this way, have been associated with something negative in my mind – including companies and products that I’m generally positive to. And while I haven’t experienced it myself, I’m wondering if the presenters in the videos I watch could end up suffering the same fate.

I don’t know how much thought YouTube has put into this business model beyond the idea of presenting more ads to earn more money. And to be clear: I’m not opposed to ads on YouTube – the company and it’s content creators have to make money somehow. But the advertisers who pay good money to have their ads shown should be confident that their ads are placed in such a way that they have the best effect. And content creators should be confident that the integrity of their productions aren’t affected negatively. Not to mention that there might be a point where the audience feels overrun with ads and start loosing interest in the platform – at which point everyone looses.

 

YouTube image by Esther Vargas

Twitch is not twitch without chat

Back in 2012 I was living in Oslo with my now fiancée and four other friends. I had enrolled into the college (Norwegian høyskole which is a Nordic hybrid of the American college and Norwegian university) of Oslo and Akershus to study as a librarian. I had just gotten out of a year of military service and was ready for greater things. Sadly, my economy was not up to snuff and as a result I had little to no games available to me. Instead I got heavily into movies, tv series and…. YouTube. I had of course been on the site for a long time, but this was the first time I actually started actively using the site with the intent of curating a valid replacement of high production content. The way I ended up using the site was as a proxy gaming experience. I was an addict who could not afford cigarettes, so I went to the metaphorical YouTube party to live of the fumes like some sort of videogame hotboxing.

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We ended up living in Oslo for about nine months before moving back to Bergen. My fiancée didn’t meld well with Oslo and my studies… well I can talk about why I’m not a librarian in a later post. Other than having a spat with Dewey I had come to love online streaming. I collected internet personalities like Pokémon cards in the school yard. Back then you (maybe you still can?) could see the exact date when you subscribed to someone. I went trawling through tons of smaller gaming channels trying to guess who would make it big. It was a good time. Everyone was still optimistic, we were the wave of the future. Time to #killoff television. Why spend time on a media where you couldn’t choose when and who to watch.

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Now, five years later, YouTube is a dumpster fire of drama, poor decisions and an emotional algorithm with bad training data. How you could expect anything from an agent given YouTube as a training sample I don’t know. I’ve seen creator after creator slowly deprioritising YouTube for Twitch. Can’t get a living off of Patreon? Move your content to twitch. Less editing and better prospects, what’s not to love as a creator. And slowly I’ve also started watching twitch. For the longest time I left Twitch well enough alone, I could not get my head around the community and I really like tightly edited content. But for gaming content there is something visceral about watching it in the now. No editing out long spats of poor gameplay. No jump cuts from funny moments to funny moments. Interacting with the dumpster fire that is the chat.

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The chat. It’s always the chat on any channel. Never a chat, but capital T, The chat. Built around the original core of users which slowly drowns in the interactions of the masses. The chat which over time has been shaped by the moderators, again shaped by the streamer(s) to reflect the values of the community. Any newcomer better learn the chat early or face obscurity or bans. So unlike YouTube, where you throw “funny” jokes in at a wall in the hope that enough likes will stick it in place. In the chat you must read the mood like a real conversation. You don’t interact to gain cheap likes. You interact to get responses from other members of The chat or if you’re lucky, the stream themselves.

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This effect, of communication online in the knowledge that your comments will never be read after this point, is what really got me into Twitch. Not even in my forum days did I have a place to communicate with random people online just for the joy of it, forum nearly always had a way to quantify your worth. Karma or post counts would give your comments extra weight. On Twitch you can buy a subscription for extra social weight, but this effect is muted by the inherent nature of it being a buyable upgrade in social status.

If you’ve never been active in a twitch chat before you might mistakenly think that it’s a good place from what I’ve written here. I would like to dispel that notion now. Twitch chat is a dumpster fire 95% of the time. People spamming emoticons, memes and just trolling one another. Tons of chats go from trolling to abuse and joining one of these chat communities as anything other than a white het cis male can be a very unpleasant experience. Like so many other places in the gaming social sphere it’s not really accepted to be different from the norm. Holding any strong opinion is seen as weakness except if that opinion is strongly against somethings. But this is in many ways what makes Twitch chat such a nice experience when you finally find somewhere not filled with garbage. When you find a crew you’re comfortable running with.

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So what are these pictures of chat spread through this post? They are fresh of the press chat interactions from yesterdays Hearthstone world championship. I enjoy a bit of esports on the side and watching the chat community growing among a 100k viewers over the days gives me great pleasure. The massive outpouring of a collective thoughts and comments to a live stream fascinates me every time. In this particular chat, every member could send a message every 10minutes. This rule was set in place in the hopes of making the chat a bit more moderate. It didn’t work. On the last day someone posted the comment “!cardpack”. On twitch any bot command is usually preface with !. This being an official channel which has had giveaways before. Well people bought into it. And once !cardpack was blacklisted people scrambled to find a new way to trash chat. So after twelve months with millions of players, the final hours of Blizzards big esport event. Chat was filled with people spamming “!claimpack” and I love it.

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