According to hubspot, video creation and consumption is expected to hit a new level this year with 86% of businesses using video as a marketing tool, a very slight increase from 85% in 2020.
At first glance, this is somewhat an obvious fact, given that we’re mostly still stuck indoors due to the pandemic and so are watching different screens for a record number of hours each day.
However, beneath the surface, this means that social media platforms need to step up even more in order to have the features and infrastructure to deal with this demand.
Enter YouTube, the platform for video creators and businesses, with two billion monthly users. It recently announced an entire range of exciting updates and features it plans to roll out over the year. This comes a couple of months after the release of a range of new features.
Here’s a quick overview
Along with the new hashtag search feature, YouTube is adding “chapters“, which allow creators to split their videos into different sections. This will also allow viewers to jump to the section that’s relevant for them instead of sitting through an entire video or forwarding/rewinding to find the section they want to consume.
Expanding Available Formats
The platform currently supports SD, HD, 4K, VR, HDR, and live video. It has observed a high demand for VR content – a demand that’s growing by the day- so to meet it and ensure a smooth experience, YouTube’s going to launch a complete redesign of its VR app homepage with enhanced navigation, accessibility, and search functionality.
In 2017, YouTube TV was launched as a streaming platform to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime as well as other similar platforms. It’s currently only available in the U.S. but already has 3 million paid subscribers who enjoy access to live TV, on demand video and cloud-based DVR from more than 85 television networks. YouTube plans to build on that success through a new add-on option that lets viewers watch available shows in 4K or download them to their DVR to watch later offline. This option will also allow users to access YouTube TV on different screens within the same household.
More Personalised YouTube Music
YouTube Music already boasts a library of over 70 million official tracks, plus playlists, remixes, music videos, live performances, covers, and rare tracks. Now, it plans to curate this into a more personalised experience through tailored playlists, similar to Spotify’s “Made For You” feature, as well as adding more more options for users who want to create their own playlists or discover other user-generated playlists.
New Parental Tools for YouTube Kids
There are currently over 35 million weekly viewers across more than 80 countries who use YouTube Kids. At the moment, parents can choose what content children can watch, limit screen time, and block videos. This will be expanded to include a highly-requested option for them to be able to add specific videos and channels from the main YouTube platform to their children’s viewing choices on YouTube Kids.
New options for creators
YouTube launched ‘Shorts‘ at the end of last year to compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. Since then, it has over 3.5 billion daily views globally and now, based on its worldwide success, it’s going to offer Shorts to its U.S. users.
Another feature it is expanding is its monetization options. Currently, whenever a user goes Live or uses the Premiere option on their videos, they have the option of activating Super Chat and Super Stickers, which invite users to donate to the channel or user. These appear right in the chat stream and remain pinned at the top for a period of time. This option is currently available for a select number of users but YouTube plans to roll it out to more users during the year.
We also want to build on this full suite of monetization opportunities through commerce. As consumer shopping habits increasingly shift to digital, we have an opportunity to meet the growing demand for e-commerce. We’re beta testing a new integrated shopping experience that allows viewers to tap into the credibility and knowledge of trusted creators to make informed purchases directly on YouTube. Keep an eye out for this to expand later in 2021.
Integrated Shopping Feature
Following other platforms, such as Instagram, who have already rolled out this option, YouTube is currently beta-testing an integrated shopping experience that will allow viewers to purchase directly through videos on its platform. It will announce more details later in the year.