Entertainment the key genre of videos to prioritize in order to build moat for all videos

Youtube has successfully built a moat just by picking the most obvious way to optimize feed/suggestion algorithm which tries to maximize view duration. Any optimization favors one type of videos over another — in this particular case, algorithm clearly prioritize entertainment category. This raises a question — how other categories stay in the same platform whose value is rather under-served.

Imagine a great tutorial video which solves viewers’ problems quickly. This type of video gets low score on Youtube’s algorithm precisely because it’s good. As video gets more concise, it gets shorter, and viewers don’t need to continue watching other videos — exact opposite of what Youtube wants users to do.

Nevertheless Youtube stands stronger than ever as a video destination for all types of videos even though video creators’ incentive is lacking in a lot of those areas. Key reason seems to be in distribution. Entertainment is such a viral content which gives advantage to the platform. Think from the other end — any upcomer with the focus on other areas, how can they successfully build a double-sided video platform and distribute organically without viral entertainment videos? By fostering entertainment segment, Youtube has mastered distribution and locked in the position.

Thus it’s not enough that your algorithm fits certain genre of videos better than Youtube to be a platform for such video categories, you need to answer distribution and monetization question first.

The most obvious experiment is found in vertical video product reviews with e-commerce built into it — you have entertainment factor in product review, vertical is the format that doesn’t suit YouTube but is perfect for talking head, and e-commerce feature might give you better monetization relative to affiliate links to Amazon on YouTube. There are numerous experiments around it but lacks definitive winner yet. It’s interesting to see how these vertical focused video platform can peel off Youtube’s reign one by one or Youtube defends is position in every field.

It’s also interesting to see how algorithm will evolve. At the moment, none of big tech companies offer options as to how algorithms optimize — call it personalizing personalization algorithm instead of single parameter focused optimization based on corporate agenda. This approach will be far more empowering to users that are outside of norm.