For the longest time – at least ever since I could access fast internet – YouTube has been my favourite go-to site. The reason is simple: you can get pretty much anything on the site. Comedy, lessons, inspiration, solutions, music, explanations and so much more.
I mention that because I fear it is in that quest – making money – that Google has ended up completely destroying YouTube.
When I say completely, you may think I am being dramatic. But it’s what I believe many people using the platform – both as creators and consumers – feel.
As the site has grown over the years, and as Google has sought to make more people use it, and make more money from it, some of the updates introduced have brought us to where we are right now. A place where it feels – at least for me – like you’re only there because that’s where certain creators are, and because there are no alternatives.
The trigger for this article is something I now have to deal with each day when I try to watch a tutorial or a review on the site.
At the end of November 2021, YouTube made their most stupid announcement yet. They were removing the dislike counter. So now if you’re watching a video, you can only see the number of likes, not the number of dislikes.
The counter is gone, and now every single video on the site has a high number of likes, and no dislikes. Knowing what’s a good review, or what tutorial can be trusted is now a whole process.
There are third-party solutions trying to bring the counter back, but nothing will ever work as good as an in-built counter.
But it’s not just the dislike button…
If you wanted the best example of how the internet is now ruined by adverts, compare your YouTube experience a few years back vs now.
We’ve gotten to a level where a simple visit to the site is something to contemplate because of all the ads you are forced to see before seeing the content you want to watch. Even creators themselves are complaining about too many ads.
To make matters worse, Google in May of 2021 introduced policy changes to have ads show up even on non-monetised channels. And these creators don’t get to receive a share of the money from those ads.
Knowing creators make money from ads, I believe I would be happy to view an ad before a video, and perhaps another after the video if it’s a long enough video.
However, seeing two or three ads before a video plays and then seeing more ads in the UI and in-between videos, and after videos, and every time I scroll is just not right. It’s exhausting.
The worst part is knowing you’re seeing all those ads while creators – especially creators in countries like Kenya – are complaining about not making any significant cash.
Why all the ads if creators can’t make a living through the money they’re making?
This is the other very annoying bit. Someone you’re subscribed to will just disappear from your home page. You will never see their new videos until you search for them. And you’ll find their numbers dwindling and they’ll give up on YouTube. The algorithm will have destroyed their channel.
No one understands how YouTube works. Why is it that a big YouTuber will fade away because their videos aren’t being shown to people? And why is it a struggling small creator will give up because their nice videos aren’t being shown to possible audiences? And why is it people’s homepages will be full of videos they don’t want to watch?
Worse of all, how is it that short-video platforms like TikTok have found a balance between discovery and retention of audience?
I hate my YouTube home feed. It never gets what I want right. I have 3 accounts to be able to see as much as possible with my different tastes. One account is for music purely, another is for tech stuff, and another is for vlogs. However, unless the creator I subscribe to is really massive, I still find myself having to search for their latest videos. Why?
YouTube no longer has the incentive to keep people on the site.
- Creators can’t make money
- Creators can’t have their videos discovered
- Users don’t have a good experience with all the ads
- Users can’t find content they want easily
- And more.
Like I said, it feels like I only still use the site because there are still no serious alternatives where the creators I love are.
I wonder if YouTube is seeing the frustration from both its creators and users. And if the company is doing anything to deal with it. Creators not being able to grow on the site means there won’t be any new things to attract viewers. Meanwhile, viewers hating their experience on the app means exising creators, plus up-and-coming ones won’t have audiences for their videos.
And where will that lead us?