Share on YouTube and In-App Messaging

Luke Stanford

YouTube have taken their first steps into the instant messaging marketplace and unveiled a new feature for their mobile app which allows users to share videos and chat with friends within a private thread all whilst staying within the YouTube app.

Similarly, to the Android Messages App, when you share a video with a contact you can chat about it without having to leave the app. Traditionally you would have to leave the app in order to send a message via email or alternative messaging app.

The feature is available on both iOS and Android devices; you can set conversations up in a number of ways:

  • Add people from your phonebook, to share in conversations
  • Send an invitation link, to those who are not necessarily contacts on your phone. Can be done via email
  • View people that you may know, this appears to be people you’re connected to on other Google Apps such as Gmail, Hangouts or Google+

Why have Google done this?

The obvious reason Google have created the in-app feature is as a defensive mechanism to ensure that they can maximise the length of time people are spending within the App. Where traditionally the majority of views being shared come from apps such as Facebook or WhatsApp, which involve sharers leaving the site in order to post content and engage with friends. This new feature will ensure that they’re engaging with each other whilst remaining on YouTube, making them more likely to go back and watch other videos, increasing avg. user watch time.

A secondary reason for the new feature is speculative but I would imagine that Google will be able to feed in the information gathered from messages and discussions within the app to inform their ad targeting, organic rankings and their own internal information. Affinity and In-Marketing audience targeting pools on YouTube are based on what types of videos a person views. The additional touchpoint of having an in-app messaging feature will allow Google to ensure that audiences are serving people with more relevant advertising based on the videos they share and comment on within the App. Alongside this, the number of shares a video receives is likely to affect the videos organic ranking in search results alongside the traditional Social Media sharing platforms.

In the long term, depending on the adoption of the in-app messaging I would expect there to be some way of advertising to users within the app. Whether this be in a similar way to Facebook Messengers ads, which can be sent to a website or a separate chat window depends on the adoption rate. Currently Facebook Messenger has a user base of 1.2 billion monthly users so I would expect it to be a while before the YouTube in-app user base will be able to expand to that scale. It may simply be used as an extension to current Discovery, App and GDN campaigns with an opt-in opt-out dynamic in a similar way to Search Partners.


What is the impact for Content Owners?

Depending on the adoption rate of people using the new in-app sharing feature there could be a significant impact for content distributors. Traditionally if a video is shared on either WhatsApp or Facebook it would then have to re-directed back to the YouTube app to play.

This new feature within YouTube will significantly reduce the time it takes to play a video and so we should expect to see an increase in the number of views videos are receiving because of a decrease in drop off rate.

Alongside this within the UI, once a video is opened a number of related videos appear at the bottom of the main video, whilst these would have appeared within the app if clicked through from another application, their proximity to the playing video is likely to increase the suggested video views.

It will be interesting to monitor how YouTube in-app messaging affects the overall landscape. At the moment its functions still have room to grow in comparison to other messaging services such as WhatsApp, Snapchat or Facebook Messenger but its ability to share and discuss videos quickly and easily from the world’s largest video-sharing website is certainly a strong USP.