WHETHER IT’S an IT issue, a DIY question or just seeking a general explainer to do with the world around us, YouTube always delivers. We’ve all had moments where we’ve likely thought to ourselves, ‘Where would we be as a society if it wasn’t for those calmly-spoken people on YouTube taking the time to explain things to us?’ Well, that learning and engagement experience is about to get a whole lot better.
It’s no secret that YouTube has been quietly coming for TikTok’s crown. Since it dropped YouTube Shorts, we’ve seen a steady amount of features that echo what people love about TikTok, or at least build upon what the short-form video platform has already achieved. From testing things like enhanced discovery and a ‘play something’ button that directs you to a random YouTube Shorts video when you don’t know what to watch, to slowly rolling out a new app called YouTube Create (a Cap Cut-like app for creators), to offering new AI-powered music search for creators looking to add a cool soundtrack to their videos, YouTube has been making some BIG moves. And, with a few more features now in testing, AI technology is at the centre of it all.
As part of a wider focus from YouTube’s parent company Google that aims to integrate AI into many of its key services, YouTube just announced another round of experimental features, including a chatbot, designed to offer more information about the video you’re watching.
Addressing the fact our attention spans are a bit frayed these days, YouTube is experimenting with an AI that helps to summarise the discussions being made about the video’s content. It draws from the comment sections of long-form videos and organises them into more ‘digestible themes’. On mobile, users will be able to sort the comment section by topic, while creators will be able to use these comment summaries to start more meaningful discussions or create new content from what the audience is talking about. Thankfully, YouTube is also trying to address negative comments and creators can remove any topics, delete individual comments and topics can’t be created from comments held for review, contain blocked words or are from blocked users. In order for this to work, YouTube will have to keep on top of its AI to prevent it from regurgitating or highlighting hateful or unhelpful comments, and if they pull that off, then there is certainly a huge benefit for both creators and users.
Where YouTube traditionally hasn’t always had the best or most helpful comment section on the internet, this move no doubt has been inspired by the growing importance and community engagement we’ve seen grow across TikTok and Instagram, and how those platforms are giving creators the ability to create reply videos and content to direct address questions and discussions happening there.
The second and arguably most exciting experimental feature to drop is a new ‘conversational AI tool’. Users will be given a little AI chatbot ‘Ask Something’ box, which will then offer the ability to answer questions about the video and recommend related content. The platform says that this feature will be extremely helpful for certain academic videos, where the tool can ‘aid learning journeys by providing quizzes and responses that encourage deeper understanding.’
The new tools are currently being experimented with and are currently only rolled out to Android device users who are also premium subscribers in the US, but they certainly give us a hint of what the future of YouTube engagement will look like once AI is fully integrated. Watch this space!