The End Of Youtube 1.0 – No More Thumbnail Marketing

Yesterday, the Youtube Blog announced it would be undergoing a few changes in its structure. What most blogs picked up was the fact that:

Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older.


Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages.

Most bloggers focused on that part because it was easy to combine it with another news item coming from Ning. What I found most shocking in the announcement from Youtube was:

To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

Thumbnail marketing was one of the most powerful tools to grow video views on Youtube. Any shameless video producer would usually stick a pic of a pair of boobs at the right time in the video, then select that picture as the thumbnail, and finally let our eyeballs command a click on the eye candy.

This is good news from Youtube: It shows their intent to create a more transparent video environment. But from now on, thumbnail spams will belong to the past, to the first generation of Youtube, when gaming the system was just that easy. In a way, what’s happening to Youtube is what happened to Digg a few months ago: A complete purgatory! I guess this counts as another reason for not trusting social media startups.