I was out to dinner with my of my web video production friends, last week, and after the usual important discussions about vital topics of the day, such as Dr. Who, Star Wars, and the irony of Kim Jong Il’s death being announced by CNN while we were in the middle of eating Korean Barbecue (dying is easy, finding good Korean Barbecue in Oakland is … Also pretty easy), we started talking YouTube and content creation, and the topic of curated YouTube playlists came up.
You create a curated playlist by building a playlist of videos, and then adding your own video introductions. It allows you to become the host of a show on any area of topicality on YouTube, and feature other folks’ work in your show without directly, or inappropriately, making using of their Intellectual Property.
Sounds good? But wait, there’s more!
From a monetization standpoint, it’s a win-win-win situation … If your videos are enabled for monetization, via Google AdSense or a YouTube Partnership, you make money. If the content you are featuring is monetized the creators of those videos make money and, if everything is monetized, then YouTube’s algorithm has incentive for promoting your playlist videos because YouTube/Google makes money. Like I said…Win-win-win.
But there’s a but … (isn’t there always?)
Playlists are still a bit funkified, and need some work from the YouTube engineering folks, especially with regard to how their embedding API works with 3rd-Party applications like Twitter and Facebook, as well as, to a lesser extent, getting the kinks worked out of how playlists function on the YouTube site.
As an example, I created a playlist called ‘The Six Degrees of ‘The Guild’ Holiday Videos“, it’s a list of videos created by folks who have been part of the cast and crew of Felicia Day’s hit web series, ‘The Guild‘. The topic itself could easily be another blog post, but sufficed to say that there’s an incredible amount of talented folks who have worked on the show over the years, and they’ve created a body of work outside of ‘The Guild‘ that’s nothing short of amazing…I just cherry-picked six of the best of them, including a Christmas video from ‘The Guild’, and added my ‘Hooray for Santa Claus‘ music video. To that I added seven brief introduction videos for the curation aspect.
If the user starts the playlist from the YouTube Playlist Window, or clicks on the list from a YouTube channel’s playlist views window, the user experience is great, and each video in the list auto-plays in succession in on YouTube Video Pages. Occasionally a ‘plugin missing’ error might occur in the browser (I’ve seen this in Google Chrome) that requires the user to refresh the page, but it’s generally smooth sailing, with the playlist working as-advertised.
The problems with the YouTube API start happening when you try to link your videos in external sites (noticeably, I have not seen this to be a problem in Google+ for some reason. 😉 )
On Twitter or Facebook, linking the list from with a ‘play all’ link will run the first video, switch to the second, but not autoplay it. This is a problem for most content creators, as it’s those secondary apps that we’re going to rely on go get traffic to our videos. YouTube has got to work on this…and I have no doubts they will, as this is their bread-and-butter, and they are encouraging use of these playlists in their YouTube Content Creator Playbook as a way to promote and share content. I just mention it as, right now, it’s a gotcha’ that content creators need to be aware of.
For right now, the best way to link your playlist content is just to provide a link to the playlist window, and the user can hit ‘play all from there.
Also, YouTube needs to provide some housekeeping options on their new Channel Pages for videos that are part of curated playlists…There needs to be a way of not having them all on your channel’s ‘videos’ page, as they can confuse users who click on them randomly when they are not auto-running from a playlist. Which brings me to another point.
While the playlist functionality is great, when everything is auto-running correctly, video publishers need to make sure to add annotation links in all the intros in their curated playlists that point to the next video in the link with the playall tags embedded in them…For the first video in the list, this will ensure that the a viewer coming into the video randomly will be able to get into the autoplay list mode, and for the other videos, it will guarantee that the viewer has an option to ‘kick start’ the rest of the videos in the list if the playlist becomes disable or they don’t auto-jump to the next video in the sequence.
If that sounds a bit kludgy, it’s because it is…This is a relatively new form of viewing experience for YouTube viewers and creators. One that has a lot of potential but, just like folks who drove early cars, like the Model A, you have to be willing to get under the hood to make this work for now. Hopefully this will not be the case for very long…Google’s got some of the best engineers in the business, and if anyone can make this happen, they can!