As YouTube celebrates it’s seventh birthday, The Verge have reported that a staggering seventy-two hours of video are uploaded to the the site every minute, a whole day’s worth of content more than a year ago. Owned by Google, YouTube has become embedded into the search process with videos hosted by it gaining prominence in the Google search algorithm, and therefore search results. Consequently, it has eliminated competition from the like of Vimeo, who offer an equally good, if not better, service, but do not have the groundswell in take up.
As well as now being part of the Google platform, a large part of the success of YouTube is how easily shareable videos hosted on the site are. Accounts can be linked to other social networks, and shortlinks easily shared if you don’t want your own channel. There are also embed codes, which are very easy to access, copy and paste, so videos are now becoming integrated into most websites and blogs.
It’s not all skateboarding cats either. YouTube is now seen as a key part of any political, commercial or charity campaign. In recent times organisations from Barack Obama’s Organising for America to The British Heart Foundation have used YouTube as a key communications tool. The Kony 2012 video sparked a worldwide debate about African politics after it was posted Youtube, and The Conservative Party thought it was so important that they bought the entire frontpage of the UK site on polling day 2010.
Of critical interest to marketers, campaigners and web broadcasters is whether anyone is actually watching the hours of content they produce. The answer is they are, but mostly in small doses. Over three billion hours of video is watched by eight hundred million unique users per month, fifteen minutes per user. So, despite the increase in the length of videos that can be uploaded, people are still predominantly watching short bursts of video online. However, as The Verge point out, the continued growth of the site is highly impressive:
What’s really remarkable is that YouTube’s growth is actually accelerating: while the hours per minute figure increased 25 percent in the eight months leading up to January, it’s grown by another 20 percent in the five months since then.
With high quality video cameras becoming ever cheaper, and videos and YouTube become part of ever more powerful smartphones, the rise in YouTube use is only likely to continue.