YouTube’s classic desktop interface will be gone for good next month – Blog – 10 minute

In brief: Whether you like it or not, Google is phasing out the classic web interface for YouTube in March. The company also noted you’ll need an up-to-date browser to make sure you don’t miss out on all the features it’s added over the last few years.
Google introduced a new look for YouTube in 2017 for desktop browsers, which polarized its audience who either hated or loved the new experience. The company went on to make numerous tweaks, the last of which made video thumbnails a bit too large for comfort, prompting a wave of outrage from users all over the world.
However, the search giant has so far let users opt out of the new web interface and use the classic one instead. That changes next month, as Google says it will retire the older web interface, which means that you’ll soon have to get used to the dreaded Material revamp, which is the de facto UI for YouTube moving forward.
Those of you using older browsers (but why?) may also get a less than ideal experience, so you’ll have to update that to get the new UI to work correctly.

Google says the older web interface lacks many of the new features and design improvements introduced over the last three years, including a dark theme, picture-in-picture mode, and “top requests based on your feedback.” It seems the company is confident that users want larger thumbnails, longer video titles, and manually combing through videos to train the algorithm to stop recommending things that don’t match your interests.
The good news is that the transition won’t be abrupt, so if you’re still using the classic UI you’ll start seeing a notification that asks you to “Switch to the new YouTube.” The comments on YouTube’s support forum show that a lot of users are dissatisfied with how the new UI works on their desktops, so we’ll have to wait and see if Google decides to take that feedback into consideration.
To put things in perspective, Google is pushing the new YouTube because it’s trying to graduate it into a profitable business. Expect to see more notifications to sign up for YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, which have 20 million paying subscribers as of writing. Ad revenue for 2019 was $15.15 billion, but despite it being a strong 36.5 percent jump compared to 2018, the profit Google makes from that after covering costs is still nebulous for investors.
In the meantime, Google will continue tweaking the web interface, so let’s hope it will add a way to adjust the size of those thumbnails for those of us who want to make more efficient use of our screen real estate.

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YouTube’s star shines brighter as ad revenues jump to $15bn- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The importance of YouTube to Google has been thrown into sharp relief after the tech giant published key metrics in its annual earnings report, confirming that the service pulled in $15bn in advertising revenue over 2019 and garnered 20 million paid subscribers.
These numbers equate to a 10% contribute a 10% share of total revenue, a sizeable 36.5% jump from the equivalent figure of $11.2bn generated in 2018.
Further progress was also made in convincing users to pay for favored access YouTube Premium and Music Premium generating a combined 20 million subscribers between them while the US-only YouTube TV clocked in with 2 million subscribers.
Elsewhere Google’s catch-all ‘other’ category, which includes the Pixel smartphone and Google Home speaker, generated $5.3bn of sales over the fourth quarter, as YouTube and Google Play helped mask a dip in hardware sales.
Over the piece, Google-parent Alphabet recorded revenues of $46bn over the fourth quarter, a rise of 17% year on year, although this still surprised on the downside of analyst expectations.
The financial success follows a series of public relations setbacks for the firm, culminating with a decision yesterday by YouTube to remove all political content which carries a ‘serious risk of egregious harm’ as it seeks to get a grip on the pernicious spread of fake news on its platform.

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YouTube’s UK boss: ‘Brand safety is no longer top of the list for advertisers’- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

In wake of another ‘brand safety crisis’, which this week revealed how advertisers were inadvertently funding climate denial videos on YouTube, the platform’s UK managing director has spoken out on why brand bosses have not resorted to pulling spend in the same way they might have in years past and the changes it’s now making.
Last week, a study from research firm Avaaz found that ads from major brands including Samsung, Warner Bros, L’Oréal and Danone had appeared next to a host of climate denial videos. The findings suggested that 16% of the top 100 related videos for the search term ‘global warming’ contained misinformation. The top ten videos had averaged one million views each.
It was a scathing report, and it was covered everywhere from the Guardian and Time Magazine to trade publications, including Tempemail. The headlines would be familiar to many of those same advertisers stung in 2017 when The Times ran a front-page exposé on how advertisers were inadvertently funding terrorism, and then paedophilia, when their ads ran next to illegal content that had slipped through the YouTube vetting net.
But the response from budget-holders this week has been considerably different to the way they reacted two years ago.
L’Oréal, for example, was quick to issue a statement to say it was actively working with YouTube to remove the ads from the videos that promoted climate misinformation – but, crucially, it wasn’t pulling spend altogether.
Speaking to Tempemail, YouTube’s UK managing director Ben McOwen Wilson suggests the feedback from brands to this issue has shown how far the platform has come in dealing with problematic content.
“We’re being clear on what our policies are, and then removing content that breaches those policies, and aiming to remove it before it gets any views – that is our goal. And we’re definitely progressing there,” he says, referring to its latest Transparency Report which boasted that Google caught 84% of content that violated its policies, and of that number the vast majority of videos (85%) were taken down before anyone had seen them.
But some policy areas are easier to define, and therefore police, than others. Videos promoting terrorism or exploiting children are illegal and obviously fall into the former bracket. Content around the climate change debate, on the other hand, is trickier to manage.
“The areas where it’s always been hard is where there is context or subtle nuance that is needed to determine if something’s one side or the other of a policy line,” McOwen Wilson continues.
“And that’s where being very open and transparent with our advertising partners – whether they’re brands or agencies – has been really helpful in them understanding that even if YouTube finds itself in a position where somebody feels we’re not doing something they would appreciate with their brand, that they understand the system that we’ve got in place and ideally they will understand ‘okay, why is it you’re not catching it’,” he says, suggesting this is why he’s not seen the backlash and pulled spend from brands as he did in 2017.
Currently, Google does not have a stance on climate change denial videos, though it does have a policy around videos that contain obvious misinformation, such as ‘flat earth’ content.
This includes a ‘classifier’, launched in in the second half of 2019, which actively seeks out videos that contain information that is misleading and ensures it’s not served to people as recommended viewing. This system effectively buries offending videos among the 500 hours of content that’s uploaded to YouTube every minute. Videos targeted by this tool aren’t content Google would remove altogether, but if someone did want to find a film about flat earth, it means they’d need to carefully search for it.
When it comes to climate change topics, advertisers have a choice about what their content appears adjacent to and can manually block their ads from running next to certain genres.
“So that’s the area of failing,” says McOwen Wilson. “It’s an area where, in 2020, there will be some discussion with government. And I said this very publicly last year that I welcome that discussion as the YouTube managing director and, more than that, as British citizen […] because that’s where the debate has reached, society and the open Internet needs to decide where we want to draw some lines.
“The debate that we find ourselves in is where should there be clear lines beyond laws that currently exist? Because the laws that currently exist will also apply to us online, but where are the other areas where you want clear lines drawn? And what are those around?”
Contrary to the belief that Google is shying away from making those decisions itself, McOwen Wilson stresses the company knows that, for business, any uncertainty around monetising climate change videos is “worse than knowing what the rules are” – but it doesn’t believe in setting those rules without wider consultation from other industries.
“And, certainly in the conversations that I have, not just with economic regulators and elected officials or brands or our content creators, people do recognise first and foremost, the value that openness brings as being far greater than the downsides,” he adds.
‘Brand safety is not the biggest thing marketers are interested in’
But McOwen Wilson says that beyond this latest challenge, YouTube has seen a shift in how advertisers approach the problem of brand safety.
Many brands have bolstered their internal knowledge with hires like ‘brand safety officers’ and ‘chief media officers’ while others have improved their own processes rather than relying on agencies and platforms to keep them safe, like Diageo which set up a Trusted Marketplace programme in wake of 2017 to better control where its online ads go (the drinks maker is now tentatively testing a return to YouTube).
Google doesn’t break out the performance of the video platform’s advertising business, but the company stated in its third-quarter earnings that it saw a 17% increase overall in ad revenue to $33.9bn, largely driven mobile search and YouTube. Meanwhile, a survey from GumGum and Digiday last year revealed that though brand safety is a concern, only 60% of ad industry professionals would say it’s “serious”, down from 90% in 2017.
McOwen Wilson believes YouTube has won advertisers around over the past two years and the policies and protections it’s put in place – from AI moderation systems to increasing the number of humans on hand to intervene – have made a considerable improvement to the trust brands place in it.
“Certainly, with brands and with agencies, the topic of brand safety is nowhere near the top of the list for them at the moment with us,” he claims. “It is a hygiene factor that they demand three years ago that we needed to raise our game to deal with and they are reasonably happy that we have made progress.
“Critically, we continue to update them on what it is that we have done and not just, ‘oh, look, it’s all gone away’ but that what’s going away is the result of us really, really thinking how we can bring all of our tech, all of our policy thinking, and then increase staffing to bear to make sure that – not just from a brand’s point of view, but actually from a user’s point of view – that the content that you see and are exposed to on the platform is appropriate.”
However, many brands are determined to keep the pressure on.
This week, at the Davos summit in Switzerland, global advertisers including Mars, P&G, Adidas, Lego and Unilever outlined a plan to suffocate harmful content online by ensuring those spreading it have “no access” to advertiser dollars.
A three-pronged strategy has been set to prevent media investments from fuelling the spread of content that “inflict damage on society” on YouTube and Facebook.
Facebook today (23 January) has been criticsed for the spread of conspiracy and climate change denial content linked to the devestating fires in Australia. A BuzzFeed News investigation found that far-right, fringe and conspiratorial pages were seeing unusual success by spreading content that misdirected blame away from climate change. In repsonse, Facebook said it was focused on “removing content and accounts that violate our policies, reducing the distribution of misleading content, and informing people when they do come across misleading content” without specific mention of where climate change denial fits in its policies.
Facing the same issues as Google and Facebook, after convening at Davos this group of advertisers must now reach a consensus on what harmful content is and whether climate change denial will be a topic they deem of big enough concern to push the platforms into demonetizing it altogether.
This is the first article that will appear in Tempemail following its conversation with YouTube’s Ben McOwen Wilson. A second will run next week, outlining his plans for the platform in 2020 as his role shifts from managing Europe to the UK market.

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YouTube’s Neal Mohan is coming to Disrupt SF – gpgmail


YouTube has found itself front-and-center in the recent debates about free speech, the internet and how the online world is shaping our offline lives.

There’s no denying the site’s tremendous reach and influence, but that’s also why it’s faced so much criticism for the role it can play in spreading misinformation, harassment and hate speech — not to mention questions about whether it’s truly a safe environment for kids.

This week, CEO Susan Wojcicki tried to address these issues in her quarterly letter to creators, where she laid out a goal of “preserving openness through responsibility.” And Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan made a similar point in a recent interview, where he emphasized the importance of “an open platform.”

At the same time, YouTube has been trying to improve, with product fixes like labeling videos uploaded by government-funded publishers  (to create more transparency around content that might serve as government propaganda), trying to limit the spread of conspiracy theory videos and disabling comments on kids videos because of predatory behavior.

And while all this is happening, the company is also trying to find its place in the increasingly crowded landscape of subscription streaming landscape. The strategy seems to be changing, with its previously paywalled YouTube Originals content becoming free and ad-supported this fall.

So there will be plenty to talk about when Mohan joins us at Disrupt SF. He’s been at YouTube’s parent company Google for more than a decade, leading the display and video ad teams before taking on his current role in 2015, where he’s responsible for YouTube’s product and user experience across all devices.

We’ll be talking to Mohan about how YouTube has tried to face these recent challenges, how it balances openness and responsibility and how the platform will continue to evolve.

Disrupt SF runs from October 2 to October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here.


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YouTube’s new AR feature lets you virtually try on makeup while watching videos – gpgmail


Earlier this summer, YouTube announced its plans for a new AR feature for virtual makeup try-on that works directly in the YouTube app. Today, the first official campaign to use the “Beauty Try-On” feature has now launched, allowing viewers to try on and shop lipsticks from MAC Cosmetics from YouTube creator Roxette Arisa’s makeup tutorial video.

Makeup tutorials are hugely popular on YouTube, so an integration where you can try on the suggested looks yourself makes a ton of sense. While a lipstick try-on feature isn’t exactly groundbreaking — plenty of social media apps offer a similar filter these days — it could lead to more complex AR makeup integrations further down the road.

The new AR feature only works when you’re watching the video from a mobile device, and the YouTube app is updated to the latest version.

Then, when watching the video, you’ll see a button that says “try it on” which will launch the camera in a split-screen view. The video will continue to play as you scroll through the various lipstick shades below, applying the different colors to see which one works best. Unlike some of the filters in social apps like Instagram and Snapchat, the colors are evenly aligned with your lips and not bleeding out the edges. The result is a very natural look.

Image from iOS 1MAC Cosmetics will work with creators through YouTube’s branded content division, Famebit. The program connects brands with YouTube influencers who then market their products as paid sponsorships.

MAC is the first partner for this AR feature, but more will likely follow.

Prior to launch, YouTube tested the AR Beauty Try-On with several beauty brands, and found that 30% of viewers chose to active the experience in the YouTube iOS.

Those who did were fairly engaged, spending more than 80 seconds trying on virtual lipstick shades.

Google is not the first company to offer virtual makeup try-on experiences. Beyond social media apps, there are also AR beauty apps like YouCam Makeup, Sephora’s Virtual Artist, Ulta’s GLAMLab and others. L’Oréal also offers Live Try-On on its website, and had partnered with Facebook last year to bring virtual makeup to the site. In addition, Target’s online Beauty Studio offers virtual makeup across a number of brands and products.

YouTube’s implementation, however, is different because it’s not just a fun consumer product — it’s an AR-powered ad campaign.

Though some may scoff at the idea of virtual makeup, this market is massive. Millions watch makeup tutorials on YouTube every day, and the site has become the dominant source for referral traffic for beauty brands. In 2018, beauty-related content generated more than 169 billion views on the video platform.

You can watch the YouTube video here, or engage with the AR feature from the mobile YouTube app.

If you don’t see your face immediately after pressing the “try on” button, you probably need to update the YouTube app.


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Facebook and YouTube’s moderation failure is an opportunity to deplatform the platforms – gpgmail


Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have failed their task of monitoring and moderating the content that appears on their sites; what’s more, they failed to do so well before they knew it was a problem. But their incidental cultivation of fringe views is an opportunity to recast their role as the services they should be rather than the platforms they have tried so hard to become.

The struggles of these juggernauts should be a spur to innovation elsewhere: While the major platforms reap the bitter harvest of years of ignoring the issue, startups can pick up where they left off. There’s no better time to pass someone up as when they’re standing still.

Asymmetrical warfare: Is there a way forward?

At the heart of the content moderation issue is a simple cost imbalance that rewards aggression by bad actors while punishing the platforms themselves.

To begin with, there is the problem of defining bad actors in the first place. This is a cost that must be borne from the outset by the platform: With the exception of certain situations where they can punt (definitions of hate speech or groups for instance), they are responsible for setting the rules on their own turf.

That’s a reasonable enough expectation. But carrying it out is far from trivial; you can’t just say “here’s the line; don’t cross it or you’re out.” It is becoming increasingly clear that these platforms have put themselves in an uncomfortable lose-lose situation.

If they have simple rules, they spend all their time adjudicating borderline cases, exceptions, and misplaced outrage. If they have more granular ones, there is no upper limit on the complexity and they spend all their time defining it to fractal levels of detail.

Both solutions require constant attention and an enormous, highly-organized and informed moderation corps, working in every language and region. No company has shown any real intention to take this on — Facebook famously contracts the responsibility out to shabby operations that cut corners and produce mediocre results (at huge human and monetary cost); YouTube simply waits for disasters to happen and then quibbles unconvincingly.


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