- What is YouTube
- Historical analysis
- Internet ecology
- How YouTube changed the way we use the Internet
What is YouTube?
YouTube is the figurehead in the market of online video platforms. The platform allows its participants to upload and share videos through the Internet, through other media devices such as mobile phones, and computers. The only requirement that is necessary is Internet connection; there are no fees attached to view videos on the platform (Artero, 2010).
The characteristics of YouTube as outlined by Duffy, 2008, can be seen as the catalyst for the transformative effect the platform has on the uses of the Internet today.
The typical webpage is made up of these components:
- Video content
- Title – main title of the video
- Channel – relating to groupings of content
- Subscribe – registered users are able to subscribe to channels for content
- Comments sections – Allowing the content creator to engage with the audience or between the audiences themselves
- Views – A visual representation for the amount of views a particular video has
In this essay I will be exploring how YouTube is transforming the uses of the Internet. In the first section of the essay I will be examining the historical process behind the company and its business model; it will then be followed by its Internet ecology showing; in the last few sections I will analyse in depth its transformative effect in the context of economics, social aspects, and politics.
Historical analysis of YouTube
YouTube was founded in September 2005, by Chad Hurley, Steve Chan and Jawed Karim. In the following month the online video platform giant gained recognition and received 3.5 million dollars in financing from a large technology capital firm Sequoia Capital, YouTube also received further 8 million dollars in financial backing from the same firm in 2006 this can be attributed to the high potential as an online video platform. Fast forwarding to barely a year of its launch in 2005, tech-giant Google purchased YouTube from founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chan and Jawed Karim in exchange for 1.65 billion dollars in stock (Artero, 2010).
After Google acquired the business YouTube as a corporate entity expanded with local versions of YouTube available in countries outside the United States including Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Technological expansion to mobile devices as a YouTube application were implemented for its users (Artero, 2010).
As the company progressed and traffic increased YouTube had a significant legal and regulatory hurdle with Viacom – a multinational mass media corporation with broadcasting rights primarily in film and television. On March 13, 2007, YouTube had a copyright and infringement suit against them. With YouTube users uploading material on the platform that contained material from Viacom for free viewing. YouTube soon after implemented “audio fingerprinting” technology facilitating in the identification of the audio of videos that can potentially infringe copyright (Latham, 2008).
After 3 years of YouTube’s launch in the United States alone the platform had 100 million unique users and in 2009 one billion videos were viewed per day. In any business the generation of capital is a must for the sustainability of a company, one of the many innovations implemented on the system were Invideo Ads, this gave rise to commercial advertising integrated in user generated content (Artero, 2010).
Google’s Adsense is the technology behind invideo ads, this allows the embedment of advertisement on the videos of its content creators on YouTube, it is also claimed that Google would share the revenue with the creator of the videos and therefore provides incentive for more participation on the platform. The success behind YouTube’s business models can be credited to their advertising technology being able to match the content of the video with the appropriate advertisement (Helft, 2007)
YouTube’s internet ecology
The internet ecology can be described as the relationship between systems, participants and the environment (Lejano & Stokols, 2013). One of YouTube’s major actor in its ecology is its participants as they are the ones responsible for uploading content on their platform.
As reported on The Verge, YouTube has signed an agreement with Universal Music groups and Sony music over royalties and copyrighted material. This complements their business models for the generation of income through advertisements as audiences who wish to view music videos on YouTube are subjected to advertisements.
Advertising companies is another major actor in social media platforms such as YouTube, this is a move away from traditional advertising formats. As claimed from Deghani et al, 2016, it is viewed that social media advertising is considered to be more trustworthy and informative. This creates a larger impact on brand awareness and consumer behaviour when coupled with the internet.
YouTube’s direct competitors as reported by marketing91 are: Vimeo, Twitch, and Dailymotion which are other social online video platforms that offer the same service. Additionally, since YouTube are signing agreements with music corporate entities the in the same market as music streaming services such as Spotify and Soundcloud.
Google analytics is also part of YouTube ecology, analytic technology generates detailed statistics about a website, recording information about how visitors interact with the platform and traffic flow (Plaza, 2011).
How YouTube transformed our use of the Internet
The marketing industry
Marketing can be defined as “a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivery value to customers and for managing customer relationships in a way that benefits the organization and its stakeholders” (Kotler & Keller, 2006, pg 3). In the early days of the commercial web, businesses would prioritise technology over marketing strategies to appeal to its consumers this strategy resulted to be less than profitable (Anderson & Wolff, 2010). Social media has changed the economics behind the marketing industry by focusing more capital towards social media platforms.
As claimed by Reid Hoffman by chairman of LinkdIn,” the ability to leverage relationship on social networks will become the most transformative uses of the internet” (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden, 2011). The marketing industry have realized the potential of social media in the, an example taken from Critten, Peterson & Albaum, 2010, marketing teams from big corporate entities such as Dell connect with their consumers via social networking sites to connect with consumers; businesses are also creating YouTube videos to drive sales via informative videos about their products.
The creation of videos by businesses themselves for brand promotion is not the only tactic that marketers have used, content created by enthusiasts of products can be seen as a marketing tool. YouTube facilitates the sharing and recommendation of information in the form of videos which ultimately extends the sphere of marketing practices. (Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden, 2011).
In the article by business insider, YouTuber “Unbox Therapy” creates videos that review different products and some products are sent to be reviewed for free, in this particular article the YouTuber reviews his take on the new iPhone XS. By putting out information in the form of videos about certain products consumers are exposed to marketing practices indirectly. This is the perfect example of how YouTube videos can reach audiences about certain products.
YouTube for teaching and learning
With the vast majority of students that have been surrounded in a world of technology including mobile phones, digital cameras and the Internet. These students are able to engage in activities that have paved new ways that the Internet is being used such as instant messaging, music, or even producing their own videos on YouTube (Duffy, 2008).
By being surrounding by technology, students prefer on-demand instantaneous access to media and to be in arms reach of content. This is how YouTube videos can be the link to the on-demand access to educational content. This in turn allows students to quickly absorb information in the form of images and videos simultaneously. This provides new ways away from traditional methods of teaching in schools as classrooms now have access to the Internet (Duffy, 2008).
As described by Duffy, videos can be a powerful tool to enhance the ability to teach but it is to be noted that how the platform is utilized for its in place in an educational settings. Duffy outlines some ways how platforms such as YouTube can be utilized:
- By exposing students to short video segments they are not overloaded with information
- Note taking in class can be improved by allowing students to view the video in full, takes notes, rewind to review the information again.
- The pause function of videos can be beneficial as they allow students to think what can happen next.
These are just some of the methods that can be utilized in the classroom.
Additionally, YouTube videos are stored virtually and therefore can be re-watched at the students’ leisure, this also goes in-line with how students prefer information quickly and on-demand.
As expressed by Tufekci, networked activism refers to political motivated individuals who utilize the affordances available by social media to present political views to establish exposure to the public audience.
As argued by Gam and Wolfsfeld social movement require news media for three major purposes: mobilization, validation, and scope enlargement. This concept relies on the ideology that the mobilization of some sort of public discourse in heavily reliant mass media outlets; validation from these mass media outlets is also necessary to highlight the importance of a topic and thus creating influence.
This allows mass media to create a monopolized hold over what can be broadcasted to the public and what cannot, and in the context of political discourse ideas may be shifted towards a bias which is then projected to the public.
As Tufekci claims the emergence of participatory media, such as social media, can disrupt the monopoly of mass media outlets by allowing social movement actors freedom to voice their opinions in a way that would have been impossible prior social media, challenge the opinions of journalists directly and to create attention.
YouTube is able to provide an outlet for networked activism to occur by its affordance of being to create videos that project the views of multiple individuals therefore removing bias, it is also argued that the internet facilitates the decrease in cost to communicate with others (Farrell, 2012)
Overview of the analysis
YouTube has come a long way from their humble beginning as simple a video sharing platform it was until the takeover by Google the transformative effects of the platform became apparent. Its transformative effect on how we use the Internet can be attributed to the technological affordance of the platform. It has transformed the economics behind the marketing industry by changing its scope to the social media platforms and therefore changing their business models.
YouTube has also transformed the way the Internet is used to voice political concerns and also removing bias that originated from mass media, it also facilitated communication between mass media and the public audience. Finally, YouTube can also transform social aspects such as education, by providing new methods that classrooms use the Internet students are exposed to newer teaching methods that can possibly aid the more traditional style of teaching. From this essay we can observe that networked technologies has enormous influence over many aspects in life.
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