YouTube's User Personalization 'Going Granular' to Double Its Reach

YouTube is in the process of doubling its users, or trying to at least. And considering the video streaming service currently reaches more than 1 billion people, that should be quite the feat. 

The key lies in tailored viewing experiences, according to Manuel Bronstein, head of product, consumers at YouTube, who spoke the MIT Technology Review EmTech on Monday. 

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"When you have a platform that has so much content, one of the most important things is how do you match people with content their going to love?" he said during his presentation. 

The key lies in personalized recommendations that takes users beyond the first video they search for and brings them into an experience similar to watching TV -- sitting back on their couches and consuming continuous streams of recommended videos. Once one clip ends, another one starts with content specifically fitted to the user's interests. 

YouTube has already begun the process of customization, but there's much more it can achieve, said Bronstein. Currently the site offers channels and even videos it believes its viewers might like, in hopes they'll subscribe to these channels for more similar content. As well, it has the autoplay function that does provide an ongoing stream of video. But YouTube's plan goes several steps further.

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The next steps will be contextual recommendations, which Bronstein called "going more granular," specifically targeting content for consumption on mobile or TV or gaming consuls, based on the viewer's history and what the company has learned about the mass market. For instance, shorter clips are probably best for mobile devices, but for at-home viewing in the living room they can push longer form material. 

Though this is all seems to be the crux of YouTube's growth plans, it's not all the Google-owned company has planned, by far. It has created a specialized app to target kids and is taking lengths to build its audience in emerging markets. 

The latter of those plans includes offering users in those emerging markets the ability to take its media offline so anyone with a limited data plan can download content at home while on his or her personal wireless network and then bring it with him or her during the day. YouTube is also partnering with mobile plan providers to subsidize plans to allow more consumption of media from its platform, while working to improve its compression algorithms so video content requires less data overall.