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#SocialThrowback2020: A year of acing mobile UI, Audio Ads & short videos for YouTube

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Social Samosa
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YouTube 2020


From Shorts to Music, the world of YouTube went through several changes in 2020, making the platform more mobile-friendly than ever before. Here's more.

The number of YouTube creators with over a million subscribers in India touched a milestone of 2500 in 2020, reflecting how India is one of the fastest-growing YouTube markets. The figure had stood at 20 in 2016. Over the years, YouTube has worked its way to increase reach in India and adapt to the needs of the creators and users here. Here's a look at some of the important updates that were announced this year.

YouTube Shorts

After TikTok's ban in the country and the introduction of Reels, YouTube too stepped up short-form content on the platform with the introduction of YouTube Shorts. With Shorts, users on the platform can create and share 15-second videos. The step helped the platform in two ways — to get new users who wish to concentrate on snackable content as well as facilitate long-form content creators experimenting with such pieces to extend reach.

YouTube Music

Google Play Music went through a phased-transition this year to turn into YouTube Music this year. Users were first invited to try YouTube Music and transfer the music library, personal preferences, and playlists to it. Eventually, the other app was phased out. To make the new one more appealing for users, several updates were announced with a focus on facilitating playlist creation, music recommendations, and a better streaming experience.

Audio Ads

Adapting to the widespread consumer behaviour on YouTube that is using the video platform for listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, and more, the platform rolled out audio ads this year in beta phase. Comprising of a still image or basic animation as the visual, these ads have a soundtrack as their main focus to put communication across. These are meant to be similar to radio advertisements. YouTube had announced the maximum length of an audio ad to be 30 seconds.

Fight Against COVID-19

A COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy was announced by YouTube this year as a means to prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform. It concentrated on four primary categories: Treatment, Prevention, Diagnostic and Transmission. Later, videos contradicting COVID-19 vaccine facts provided by authorised health experts and organisations were also added to the list of subjects around the pandemic that risked removal if found to be misinformation by YouTube.

Onam 2020 & YouTube Pappadam

Ahead of Onam this year, YouTube ran a campaign around Pappadam. Focussing on the Southern India market, particularly Kerala. The campaign highlighted various regional creators and content. It concentrated on the practice of breaking the crunchy Pappadam as several people took to YouTube and social media to share such videos.


YouTube 2020

Here's a month-wise look at the updates in the world of YouTube this year.

January 2020

  • YouTube restrains data collection for targeted ads on kids’ content
  • Voice Search, Who's Watching, Navigation Menu and Devices & Screen Resolutions features are introduced

February 2020

  • YouTube tests Viewer Applause to help creators earn more
  • Investments are made in kid's content, the web interface is updated and transition from Play Music to YouTube Music begins
  • L’Oréal Paris announces collaboration with YouTube NextUp to recognize top beauty creators and help them recognize their talent

March 2020

  • YouTube tests Creator Ads Sales Pilot

April 2020

  • YouTube begins testing Shorts
  • UPI payments launched for YouTube and YouTube Music
  • YouTube launches Video Builder free video generation tool

May 2020

  • Testing: YouTube’s ‘Products In This Video’
  • YouTube plans a Subscription Sales Tool for publishers
  • Brand Lift is launched for TV screens
  • YouTube invites Google Play Music listeners to transfer music library, personal preferences and playlists to YouTube Music

June 2020

  • Creators are asked to use their discretion and turn off ads for content that is not suitable for advertisers
  • Shop Now button that opens a carousel of products is added in a bid to make video ads more shoppable
  • YouTube tests 15-second videos & a new voice search

July 2020

  • YouTube launches SmartReply for Creators
  • Analytics for Artists is launched to give them an extensive overview of their viewers, reach and performance on the platform
  • RPM is launched for creators to track their revenue rate
  • Studio Dashboard gets new additions for creators to get better analytics on the discovery of their content and audience

August 2020

  • Video Analytics Overview is updated and Stories Analytics are introduced
  • YouTube's official blog is rebranded after fifteen years
  • Blur Editor is updated, AdSense Association is made available in Studio and adjustable timestamps are introduced for video copyright edits

September 2020

  • YouTube begins testing the picture-in-picture (PiP) mode
  • Create icon is added to the bottom navigation bar in the app and notification icon has been moved up
  • YouTube Music improves playlists with new updates
  • Beta version of YouTube Shorts is launched
  • YouTube releases new tools to help advertisers drive results at scale
  • Machine Learning in use to scale automated age-restriction of videos

October 2020

  • Google announces Audiovisual Speech Enhancement in YouTube Stories
  • Testing: Reminder prompts for comments and a new section in Subscriptions
  • YouTube experiments with in-app shopping features
  • Google improves attribution for YouTube TrueView for action ads
  • Misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines is removed from the platform
  • YouTube app gets interface upgrades
  • YouTube adds new features to the mobile app
  • Studio gets new features to streamline saving and publishing videos

November 2020

  • New section added to Terms of Service: Right to Monetize
  • YouTube tests auto-generation of video chapters

December 2020

  • Premieres gets three new features – Live Redirect, Trailers, and Countdown Themes
  • YouTube Analytics now auto-highlights key audience moments

YouTube is continuously working to adapt to the changing consumer trends with respect to consumption on mobile with app upgrades and audio-only offerings. Other key areas of updates include a safe environment for kids and maintaining the monetary value of the platform for creators and brands. It would perhaps be safe to assume that these efforts would continue and grow manifold in 2021.

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