YouTubers love complaining about how bad the Google-owned company is when it comes to responding to user feedback, but at this year's unofficial YouTuber conference, VidCon, the YouTube team revealed a slew of much-needed site revisions and features, as well as their sense of humor. We sat down with five YouTubers and asked them what they thought of the changes.
Immediately before announcing the site changes, YouTube employees aired a skit by Barely Political, titled "YouTube Complaints!" starring actress Laura McDonald as a YouTube HQ receptionist fielding complaints from the at-times irate user base, which happens to be YouTube celebrities.
The new revisions and features don't address the same complaints as the Barely Political comedic skit, but they are just as important and in some cases, ground-breaking.
“YouTube gets a really bad rep, but I think the team is much more proactive and responsive than Facebook or Twitter, and I really admire their commitment to users,” said John Green, one of the conference's organizers and half of the Vlog Brothers, a duo known for their vlogs and educational content. Here are the top nine changes:
A new version of the YouTube app for Android, the buzzed-about Jelly Bean:
“I use the old one, so I am very much looking forward to using the new one, because it looks like a big upgrade” said Andre Meadows, a Next Up Vlogger winner known on YouTube as Black Nerd Comedy.
“The old app was okay but from what I saw from the presentation, the new one is going to be a lot better and like the website, so I will probably end up spending more time on the app that I did before,” said Samantha Fall, an intern for Corey Vidal, a Canadian video consultant and content creator.
The ability to do bulk annotations, which in layman terms means the ability to make pop-up description changes en mass to all videos on a creator's channel:
“I have 312 videos and every one of them, I had to do annotations individually, so I think it's a wonderful thing” said 67-year old Dr. Phyllis Collins, a retired California attorney now known as “the YouTube grandma” for her DietHobby channel.
“We've been asking for bulk annotations for years, so this is huge for us” Green said.
New features and an overhaul of the editing software available in the YouTube video manager, which was described by many as being an “Instagram for YouTube:”
“For people making videos who don't have the money or resources [to use Adobe or Final Cut], I think it's awesome, and another step to making videos more professional,” Fall said.
A new dashboard and analytics options for YouTube content creators:
“I really like the new dashboard – it's very nice – and I can see how it would be very useful” Collins said.
“I hope it will be good, but even if it isn't, it really shows how YouTube is responding to our feedback,” Fall said.
Customizable thumbnails to every partner in good standing with Google:
“I am happy all partners are getting this, however YouTube will have to keep an eye on it because there will be abuse, and there will be more boobs in thumbnails,” Meadows said. (By thumbnail abuse, Meadows means using cleavage or misleading images to get people to click on a video.)
Meadows also suggested YouTube offer more thumbnail choices from the video itself, because “some people are turned off by photoshopped thumbnails.”
“Thumbnails are now definitely going to be abused,” Green said. People 'thumbnail cheat' all the time, and the new related videos algorithm gets rid of 90% of 'thumbnail cheating,' but now that more people will have access to custom thumbnails, Green predicts the problem will once again become a issue.
A fixed scheduled publishing allowing set publication times, which the YouTube team unveiled with the words “we've forgotten about the plumbing at times:”
“This is awesome because if people are expecting a video to go up on Thursday, you need that video to show up on that day,” said Fall, who added that if you are traveling or away from the computer, this feature really “eases the mind a lot.”
“I am absolutely thrilled they figured out how to fix that because that solves one of the biggest problems we've had on the site,” Green said.
A hefty gold-plated “play button” in a glass display case, similar to the platinum record award music industry titans receive:
“It's a silly thing, but helpful to have as a sort of gold record for our industry,” Green said. “I hope to get one.”
“I was not expecting that at all, but it's cool because it's physical proof you have a legit job, and you can point on your wall to something tangible you've worked hard for,” said Rianna Finch, a cartoonist and intern for Corey Vidal.
Soundstages and potential shooting space for partners in Los Angeles, London and Tokyo:
“We spend half of our time finding locations, so it's such a good fall back,” Finch said.
“Because it's made by YouTube, you know it will be a space optimized for YouTubers too,” Fall added.
“I am very surprised, and can't wait to hear what that's going to entail, and it's wonderful because it's something [YouTube] didn't have to do” Meadows said.
TrueView, a “new family of video ads” reliant on “viewers choice” and input that promises to “help advertisers build better ads,” and YouTube's Content Marketplace, a platform connecting smaller brands and ad agencies with pertinent content:
Fall, who is already familiar with TrueView, said “you definitely notice a difference in ad sales, a noticeable improvement” when using the service.
“If you have relevant ads, which are related to your content, there is a higher chance people will watch the full ad,” Meadows said.
Correction: An early version of this story missatributed a quote by John Green to a different member of the Vlog Brothers.