YouTube Testing New Organic Reach Driver
YouTube is expanding the test of its “Explore” feature, a new discovery tool it first introduced as an experiment within its iPhone app last year.
The Explore feature, initially popularised by Instagram, seems to be the latest must-have tool for the major social players. Launched on Instagram back in 2012, the Explore tab has become a key driver of content discovery and subsequently time-on-site.
Hence, YouTube joins an esteemed company already rocking the feature:
- Snapchat launched its version, called Discover, in 2015
- Pinterest launched its Explore tab in 2016
- Twitter’s equivalent launched in 2017
- Facebook has launched something similar with Facebook Watch in 2018
- LinkedIn’s should launch any time soon…
Same Same, But Different
YouTube has had recommendation technology for quite a while; however, previously it has relied heavily on past viewing activity and other in-app behaviours to make its content suggestions.
With the new Explore tab, YouTube aims to widen recommendations to include various topics, videos and channels users may not have otherwise encountered.
In many ways, the latest Explore updates are in line with broader Google shifts, as the search behemoth moves its focus towards a more proactive mode of discovery. As opposed to the reactive mode of search in years gone by.
Or, as Google put on its 20th anniversary in 2018:
‘The shift from queries to providing a queryless way to get to information: We can surface relevant information related to your interests, even when you don’t have a specific query in mind.’
Explore Offers Substantial Marketing Opportunities
Although other social players have adopted the Explore feature, few have done so as successfully as Instagram.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, Instagram Explore now drives 20% of Instagram usage.
Unsurprisingly, Explore will be a significant growth driver for Instagram in 2019, especially with the impending launch of new and expanded Instagram shopping features which will reside within.
Zuckerberg also noted that Facebook had not yet monetised Instagram Explore with advertising. Currently, Instagram only has two ad placements: Feed and Stories.
However, given the time spent in Explore, combined with the growing commercial intent behind its usage, Facebook will look to monetise this in the not-distant future.
Facebook announced at the end of last year, a 2019 launch of Facebook search engine marketing (SEM). Facebook SEM, to begin with, will target Facebook Search results and Marketplace.
However, the bigger Facebook SEM opportunity probably lies with Instagram Explore. So watch this space.
On this basis, it is easy to see why an Explore style feature, if implemented well, offers significant upside for all social apps. Both in terms of marketing solutions and user retention.
As a general rule, where there is discovery there are ads. Therefore, expect to see Explore in every channel becoming a key marketing opportunity through 2019 and beyond.
Heaven forbid, we may even have to start talking about social explore optimisation (SEO)…
After all, no one loves an acronym as digital marketers do.