Study: How people use YouTube

The Pew Research Center has just released a new study on US users’ use of YouTube.

Data from the report was collected between late May and mid-June from more than 4,500 respondents.

Among the points discussed include their different uses of YouTube, its key roles and types of content recurring on the platform.


Half of adult users say YouTube is important to discover how to do new things

In terms of the different uses of YouTube, half of the adults surveyed say that YouTube is important to discover how to do new things (51%).

For 28% of them, the platform is used to pass the time, when for others it allows to decide when buying a product (19%).

Note that for 19% of respondents, YouTube also serves to understand the things happening in the world.



Note that some people also go to YouTube to be aware of the latest news. The share of these people has almost doubled between 2013 (20%) and 2018 (38%).


One of the key roles of the platform: to provide content for children

One of the lessons learned from the study is that one of YouTube’s key roles is to provide content for children.

If we analyze the distribution of the 50 most recommended videos by the platform during the study, we see that the content for children are positioned in the 3rd place of the ranking, just after the music videos (14 videos) and tied with TV show videos (11 videos)



In addition, among those surveyed, 81% of parents with children under 11 have already let their children watch videos on YouTube.

34% of them even say that they let their children watch content regularly, despite the warning of the platform that warns its users that it is not suitable for children under 13 years.

Also, 61% of parents who have already let their child watch videos on YouTube say that he has already fallen on inappropriate videos.



Users however accustomed to falling on troubling or problematic contents

YouTube can also be a place where users find themselves confronted with disturbing or even problematic content.

60% of users surveyed say they fall on videos showing dangerous or disturbing behavior, and 64% on videos that seem to be faked or unreal.

A minority of users also report seeing videos that are abusive or degrading to others, with 11% of respondents saying they see this type of content frequently.



A recommendation system that encourages people to watch longer and more popular content

Part of the report is dedicated to the platform’s recommendation system, which according to Pew encourages watching increasingly popular and longer videos.

The majority of users surveyed (81%) say they watch occasional videos occasionally, regardless of their age group.

At CES 2018, the YouTube product manager even said that the site’s recommendation engine was responsible for more than 70 percent of the time users spent watching videos on the platform.

These types of referral systems thus seek to attract viewers to content of interest, by keeping them on the site for longer periods of time.




The operation of the algorithm is however rather vague.

To better understand the nature of video recommendations on YouTube, the research center conducted an analysis of videos suggested by the site’s recommendation algorithm.

To do this, researchers made more than 170,000 random paths among the recommended videos to viewers of popular English-language channels (with more than 250,000 subscribers), using the site’s API over a six-week period. the summer of 2018.

Among the lessons of the test, we learn that the recommended videos are longer and longer compared to the one viewed initially, the 4th recommended video even going to last 5 minutes longer than that initially watched for reach a total duration of 15 minutes, against 9:30 on departure.




In addition to extending video viewing time, the referral system also encourages YouTube users to watch more and more popular videos, rated by their number of views.

The initial test videos averaged just over 8 million views.

The first videos recommended by the algorithm were much more popular, accounting for an average of 30 million views, and up to more than 40 million for the 4th recommended video.

The researchers also found that YouTube’s referral system constantly seeks to promote popular videos, regardless of the criteria used when choosing the starting video (number of views, relevance, date of publication, evaluation …) .




To go further…

I am studying more and more the Youtube platform.

Working in the Influence Marketing sphere, it is a platform that is intriguing me more and more.

I will start publishing more and more content related to Youtube from begining of January and will eventually launch my own channel to talk to you now directly in Video style and Live style.

What do you think about youtube?

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