My Video Went Viral. Here's Why
My hypothesis is that the algorithm, rather than viewer preference, drives views on the site. As the algorithm shifts, various FR-myrs experience burnout (as what used to work no longer works) and right now click-through rate is the key metric. So clickable titles and thumbnails are the only way to get a lot of impressions and hence views - they are the only way to go viral. This leads me to wonder which audiences will become most prevalent on the site and if there will even be a place for educational content. In the long-term, hopefully FR-my is able to measure satisfaction through surveys and other metrics to ensure an optimal experience for everyone on the site.
Flipchart artwork by Maria Raykova
Filmed by Raquel Nuno
Thumbnail by Ignat Berbeci

  • Percunas

    great points. not only will the algorithm change but also what "clickable" means. For example, when i do look for new stuff to watch now, i find myself activity avoiding overly clickbaity titles/thumbnails. btw, if YT broke your Sub-Box, you might want to try a RSS Reader, works for me so far.

  • kukukachu

    Dude, you don't need to use any gimmicks. The things you talk about and the things you do are all the reason that you have all the subscribers you do. Just be yourself my dude.

  • kukukachu

    Thank you very much for this video. Also, thank you very much for not monetizing it

  • vshk

    It's not "why it went viral" but more like "how I made it so". More clickable topics and clickbait titles? See ya....

  • Angela Reuss
    Angela Reuss

    It's not good for any platform to only show people only what they want... because: 1. Sometimes people don't know what they want until they see it 2. People will be closed into their own little naive and delusional world, and never learning the truth- or learning anything new.

  • Angela Reuss
    Angela Reuss

    Do what you have to do to keep your channel going. Make your title click baity... just don't lie and people will continue watching you. :)

  • megadeathx

    I'm 14:10 into this video and this guy says I'm only expected to stay for 7-9 minutes. Like... whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!?

  • SironNFuries

    I subscribe to channels that I want to track track of. Some months I'm in a mood for educational videos, some months I just want to see funny cat videos, so the FR-my algorithm is always completely off for me. I scroll through my suggested videos and normally nothing appeals to me. So I tend to use my list of subscriptions, which is just channel names. I know these names and I'll click over to their page if I want to see what they've recently posted. And then I tend to binge watch their content. I do have somewhere around 80 subscriptions and I forget some of them, so when I see a name I don't remember I also click over to see what content they have and if I am no longer interested - and end up reminding myself why I subscribed in the first place. In this way, I still keep tabs on dormant or infrequent creators. All this to say that the bell does not work for all viewers. I will never always be in the mood to watch every video from a creator. I do wish there was a better way to find new content than searching random phrases.

  • MrTokitoriki

    I rang the bell... no one answered... :D

  • Dead Ringer -Cult of Deathrattles
    Dead Ringer -Cult of Deathrattles

    *_Anybody else notice that Veritasium's Element is "Ve42?" Like particularly "42" part. It sounds a lot like "Thoughty2" another educational channel, but that's two people with this suspicious "42" number in thier name_* Am I late?? Do I get whooshed for this? Because I'm jsut bos noticing. ---i know they are quite obviously two different people, I'm jsut commenting on the 42

  • Reeve Miller
    Reeve Miller

    _ _ \_(!!)_/

  • W. T. O.
    W. T. O.

    I am so sick of FR-my/Google/Alphabet. They are money grubbing whores destroying quality channels by putting pressure on you to prostitute yourselves to remain relevant, EVEN THOUGH... you already are based on the content you're providing. I am so sorry mate that you have to stoop to FR-my's pathetic standard in order to keep your channel going or "Relevant". However, don't cheapen yourself chasing clicks with misleading titles. Tie in this channel with your website, offer subscriptions via email, and engage your viewers via this comment section and vlog. You have a story in a different state, go visit that state and pick one of your subscribers to join you. Just rethink your gameplan and leave the cheap crap for the losers. Namaste!

  • David

    This just in. The bell doesn't work anymore. FR-my is dying.

  • RaineXHero

    I feel like I must be the only person who uses the Subscriptions tab.

  • 10-AHOLIC

    Can you ring my bell?


    another video that I will recommend:


      and if U R just going to type a REPLY of how smart of We R@APTECH on-TV then don't forget to chick on the notification bell AFTER U Subscribe( Just do it GodDamit )

  • florex

    I've watched some of your videos way back and I have to admit that for a time I even forgot about your channel ;(. I think that's part of your described problem: with so much content to choose from, as soon as you start not watching something regularly anymore, you start to forget about it until the FR-my Algorithm serves you one of those videos again... Now I'm watching all of the missed videos hahaha. You're now my only channel, I hit the bell because your videos are damn good! Please keep making them!

  • Dead Ringer -Cult of Deathrattles
    Dead Ringer -Cult of Deathrattles

    So much honesty. (Cries a single PERFECTLY SHAPED tear)

  • Dennis Ulijn
    Dennis Ulijn

    Would be nice if FR-my gave creators the option to have different titles for different people, like a non-clickbait title for notification squad, interesting titles for subscribers and clickbait titles for non subscribers

  • Ramix09

    I always saw the youtube algorithm as the neural net, but it's actually a program tweaking the parameters on another neural net that is the content creators. Great video

  • Firasat Hussain Chishti
    Firasat Hussain Chishti

    Nice video

  • 1000 subscribers with no videos challenge
    1000 subscribers with no videos challenge

    I rung the bell.

  • CrazyDualWielder

    Any one notice the beep at 1:52

  • Karen Reddy
    Karen Reddy

    I'm so thankful for your content!

  • thePlanetraveler. com
    thePlanetraveler. com

    I laughed when you said, "The point of this video is to ring the bell." Because that's exactly what I was thinking. Honestly, I don't care if you have click bait thumbnails as long as the videos are good.

  • grégoire Denécheau
    grégoire Denécheau

    I was honestly impressed by the quality of the video. I enjoyed it. It was realy clearly explained and interesting ! I had seen youtube content before complaining about the new algorithm without really explaining what was wrong, and thanks to you, I finally understood. I won't click the bell because I'm some sort of casual youtube user and don't want to be spammed with notifications, but I'll regularly check your videos, because I am sure some of them will interest me.

  • As 123
    As 123

    Nice to sweet plese one click icon

  • Frizzable

    holy crap this video is so accurate. well done.

  • SURVIVING Julie Silversmyth
    SURVIVING Julie Silversmyth

    Yeah... and the bell doesn’t even work anymore.

  • Man Spider
    Man Spider

    Why does your channel not have a bell?

  • Volbla

    There is another way to always get notified of of your subscriptions' uploads, and that is to always go to the subscription tab and never use the youtube main page. Protip free of charge.

  • Volbla

    If you give it more than a moment's thought, isn't it kind of obvious that click through rate only gauges how catchy the title and thumbnail is? And though i guess that is important if your goal is to get people to click on something that they have never seen or heard of before, should that be your biggest goal? I was going to suggest viewer satisfaction as a possible metric, perhaps measured by whether a viewer like, favourite, subscribe or watch more of the uploader's videos, but maybe that is more useful for individual viewer preference rather than what videos get widely promoted.

  • MathPencil - Mathematical sense
    MathPencil - Mathematical sense


  • Roxanne Morgan
    Roxanne Morgan

    Very informative,really appreciate all the creativity you put into the presentation. Thank you!

  • Mattia Spinelli
    Mattia Spinelli

    I also thought you stopped making videos and was even sad about it. I even check regularly your page, but somehow the new stuff is not put to the front. I have to really look for it. I miss the time when after subscribing I would get notifications.

  • Tyler Durden
    Tyler Durden

    I am not gonna lie, I will be stealing that paper board idea some time in future.

  • nawack1

    We as an audiance have to think more but not let this Algo do it for us...

  • Hukas01

    Why hasn't rating been a thing? there's more much to know from a thumbs up and thumbs down. Also, the FR-my home screen should be more topic driven, I like music, Art and physics/bio stuff, so I never look at the home screen. When I go to say Khan's Academy, it doesn't just give the most popular video's, I choose a topic and it gives me choices in those topics. tl:dr - give users categories.

  • Christopher Field
    Christopher Field

    Give us a tracker/vote/request stand alone app.

  • Virtuoso

    This will go viral for doubt about it:

  • Francisco Arenas
    Francisco Arenas

    your videos are great!. i think i've never took the time to really thank you for all your work. clicked the bell instantly! never noticed i haven't ha!

  • Priya Yasmin x
    Priya Yasmin x

    Loving this 😍🔥 Any small youtubers want to help each other out by subscribing 🙌🏾💖!!!

  • Ariel Lorusso
    Ariel Lorusso

    3:34 I almost died LoL

  • Daniel A. Friedrich
    Daniel A. Friedrich

    I unsubscribed some 3 years ago because your videos started feeling too mainstream to me but thanks to your viral video, I noticed your new amazingly original content. IMHO, originality is a big part of the clickbait factor, so I think it's great YT encourages creators to stay creative, reach new audiences and find new potentials.

  • mickoz84

    For me, this is the first video about the topic which was really objective and not just blaming FR-my for making everything worse. Sure, the develop the ranking and recommendation algorithms, but they are interested in making the platform stronger. They don't have any interest in losing all the users to other platforms. And if they grow this is also better for the creators. One interesting point you brought in is that the youtubers got used to these high view counts and every change which reduces these counts is seen as a loss. But consider that there are more youtubers on the planet who maybe just in a prior phase of their potential success. They all fight for the same market and It would be bad if they got no chance because all the big youtubers (and there are a lot of them) taking already the lion-share. Maybe the subscriptions should have a different name. It should be called "liked channels", channels I'm interested in seeing more but not necessarily need to be informed of each new video. If I would get informed about each of the channels I have subscribed, I never would see a video from anybody else (and I have only a few subscriptions).

  • Zombie Legend146
    Zombie Legend146

    FR-my: "Oh No, he's figured us out" "Quick, change the algorithm again."

  • Saurabh Anand
    Saurabh Anand

    You are the best!

  • L C
    L C

    Is this how our current president got elected?

  • Bluestone Randomness
    Bluestone Randomness

    0:54 DJ Nate fans?

  • Dominik Černý
    Dominik Černý

    So basically make interesting, fun and catchy videos

  • Dominik Černý
    Dominik Černý

    Damn, well done

  • nady jose villar tavarez
    nady jose villar tavarez

    I hope this does not make FR-myrs all that subscribers hunters.

  • nady jose villar tavarez
    nady jose villar tavarez

    Why are there 3K thumbs down, makes no sense, you watch this guy cause you like this guy, why go negative on a dude just making his case? Just stop watching.

  • Martin Allan
    Martin Allan

    Clickbait titles can be very risky. If the title is technically true but barely related to the video you're fan base will get sick of clicking on basically fake videos. However if its a creative title that is related then yes very much use those titles

  • TooLit

    KayZeee sent me

  • Floyd Piccinin
    Floyd Piccinin

    CTR is for Crash Team Racing

  • MazAMaTaz

    This is the first time I’ve subscribed to a channel AND clicked the bell... but one thing that interests me is that I got an option for “personalized” notifications and “all.” You would think that a subscriber who’s clicking the bell in the first place would want to get all of the notifications from a FR-my channel, so why is there a personalized option? It just seems like yet another way to make the subscriber numbers on a channel more meaningless. Anyway, looking forward to getting all the news about your videos! Glad that the FR-my algorithm introduced me to your channel because I love your work!

  • supbrotv

    10:25 This is way deeper than just youtube algorithm, this also explains how religions came to be.

  • Jorge Ventura
    Jorge Ventura

    Hi, why you don't duplicate your channel on Vimeo? You can publish the same content there and publish the link here. The only way to compete against monopoly is competition.

  • StarkRG

    I barely check the youtube suggested videos. I always head to the subscriptions page to find videos.

  • Mark S
    Mark S

    Previous video- "Boredom is good for you." This video- "I'm going to be offering more clickbaity titles and thumbnails in order to get your views."

  • djan959

    Who the f*** cares about this you're an a******

  • Wikickid

    To be honest, I stopped watching you because I was in my final year of college. That was a whole other mess plus two. Then I came back to youtube and deleted my search history and cookies (or whatever it was called on this site) because my baby cousins and my father used my account to watch stuff, and my recommendation got messed up. I used to watch a lot of educational channels but now I just click what's on the front page.

  • Antony Sutton
    Antony Sutton

    This is my first video of yours. I came here due to link from a channel i subscribe to and it was really interesting to see how people use FR-my. Personally, I never have looked at the homepage or whatever it is called as i always use Youtibe as a resource for something specific i am interested in. Maybe more people (professional design engineer and geek) using the resource in our way might affect the algorithm in a positive way - stop the click through! PS i subscribed :)

  • Umbraglow

    i have a number of content creators that i will specifically search occasionally to be sure to see their content, Veritasium and SmarterEveryDay are 2 examples but the point is that there is loyalty on the platform however the platform itself does not enable that. As Cody' from Cody'slab mentions tho the bell can be unreliable.

  • BitofBritLife

    Fascinating. Thank you - that will help me a lot for when I launch.

  • Surjan singh
    Surjan singh

    I literally clicked on the bell icon just a minute before you say to do so, as i understood what i wanted.

  • Jorge Stolfi
    Jorge Stolfi

    I give up on channels for various reasons. One of them is when I feel that the channel creator is more concerned with increasing his FR-my points than telling me something interesting or useful. A catchy thumbnail or title may trick me into clicking and watching a mediocre video for a while; but then it will make me less likely to watch the next one from the same channel. That is automatic, unconscious. Another thing that makes me give up on a channel is advertising embedded in the video. Ads are annoying -- especially when the same ad is repeated in every video. Why should I choose to watch such videos? Inserting an ad in a good video is like adding a horse turd top of a fine dish. No matter how good the cooking, that restaurant will quickly lose all its customers.

  • TessellatedGuy

    The algorithm likes black balls

  • Hlafordlaes

    Now I understand _in context_ the parts of this video that were included in a recent alt-right rant about losing viewers that I had the misfortune of watching. Good suggestion about the bell, it's the only way to guarantee seeing the new releases I want to see from my subscribed channels, to which I add turning on browser notifications for YT.

  • uc_human

    FR-my has gone from creative audience to dumb teenagers, Useless and clickbait platform. We meed a 'FR-my BRAIN' a platform to filter the dumb from the smart and real curious ones. Nobody asked for FR-my Go or FR-my Music. Already many services superior to them. We need a FR-my with dumb audience and another FR-my for the smarter ones. ASAP

  • Bhardwaz Chetry
    Bhardwaz Chetry

    no. 1 technique is to make a video on 'How to go viral'.

  • A K
    A K

    While i support you analysis of this method I do not agree with your hypothesis. Subscriptions are everything! If you produce quality content we will watch your videos consistently. Your discussion is about gaining new viewers. I understand your desire to gain more viewers but you must continue to provide what you have provided to your viewers.Clickbait your title and screenshots but keep your good content.

  • Nicholas Littlejohn
    Nicholas Littlejohn

    Google rewards quality content.

  • Theo Rogan
    Theo Rogan

    I feel like the algorithm changes the more people know about it. Since a lot of channels started to make jokes about how they need to get the thumb nail or how there thumb nail isn’t perfect, I notice a big boom in BS thumbnails and titles(before Mr. beast) so I feel like the audience of FR-my will also catch onto the BS thumbnails and click though rates on really flashy thumbnails with a lot of obvious photoshop will decrease.

  • ArchOfWinter

    Tip of the ice burg is a bad analogy. What we see on FR-my is the peak of a mountain sticking out from the top of the clouds. You are on a plane flying above the cloud. You don't see the whole mountain, or the island that it is on, or how deep the ocean the island is on.

  • Stephanie Small
    Stephanie Small

    How do you edit the front picture of video to what people see

  • Marty.R Woodcock
    Marty.R Woodcock

    As someone wanting to get into YouTubing, this video is awesome. Now to find how to make a photography Chanel that people will actually enjoy.

  • ducttapeanddreams

    Placing a greater emphasis on subscribed channels would be helpful for both creators and audiences. Maybe have an auto drop off of subscribers if someone goes too long without watching a subscribed channel. And doing a better job with related content.

  • Ice Gorilla
    Ice Gorilla

    I like the idea on the final slide. I think it would be great.

  • donnie gebert
    donnie gebert

    VERI is a crypto project. That'll ger ya some love too.

  • James S
    James S

    i've watched dozens of these 'my video went viral' retrospectives, but yours was far and away the most detailed and valuable to me! Just wanted to say thanks for such a thoughtful and high-quality breakdown of the topic :)

  • David Bergstrom
    David Bergstrom

    Love your videos, Great video, do what you have to do to play the game to our want to play.

  • Goodluck29o19 NU
    Goodluck29o19 NU

    I guess I would say sub to me loo

  • Tim Collins
    Tim Collins

    Have separate areas on the front page "Subscribers" your subscriptions recently posted - show your customers what they have told you they want "Recommended" - related videos we think you'd like from the same vein as your watching history "Popular/trending" - a lot of people are watching these right now, "Give it a try/you may also like" a section to showcase the FR-my you haven't seen yet - ie someone watching Mr Money Mustache should probably watch Jack Bogle "Smaller/hidden gems" a section to showcase random videos from less popular genres and channels - think of this as a way to boost growth from small cap stocks 😍

  • Tim Collins
    Tim Collins

    Focus on quality content like Ephemeral Rift, Tom Merrick and Captain Shack and over the long term build a business around being the connection between your viewers and what they want - in short, build a business for you and the customer not for FR-my.

  • Mason Hajnal
    Mason Hajnal

    It's crazy how before youtubes new bell notification feature were u either are fully notified, customized, or not, I had been fully notified of your content but with this new feature it switched me to "customized or partially" kinda strange

  • Courtney Bell
    Courtney Bell

    Thank me later

  • Me Elsine
    Me Elsine

    I was happy to see you in the trending page : ) as I was looking for your channel but could no longer find the name. Somehow I hoped FR-my would take me there. Thanks to your viral video it happened. Personally I am more seeking quality which is why I was thinking of your channel. And of course I clicked the bell. I am here to stay.

  • tazy T
    tazy T

    Wel done mate if u use utube for income u gota play their game if u create for joy and to share ,make what u want and enjoy the experience that's what I do ,and I'm free to create what I want .luv ya vids man cheers

  • jabs307

    Such a great, organized, well thought out video!

  • Evan Silversun
    Evan Silversun

    Amazing. One of the best videos I’ve seen on FR-my. Top notch props.

  • Ben Adelie
    Ben Adelie

    I don't think the video title "why are there x balls on this lake?" is sensationalist and clickbaity if the video actually explains that topic. 1. It's only clickbait when the title has little to do with the content. Think of a scenario when a video claims to have all the secrets about the new iPhone, but basically is showing off a mock-up made by a fan. 2. Sensationalism is often taken to mean creating enthusiasm at the expense of accuracy, i.e. to lie, fabricate, or misrepresent for the sake of increasing your CTR. That title above is not doing this either. It's accurate and to the point. I'm sure you can keep clear of both these issues and have a higher CTR with more engaging titles and thumbnails. It's about curiousity and engagement. Maybe a good way of looking at it can be putting yourself in the shoes of a lay person who's come across one of your videos for the first time. Would they understand the title/thumbnail, would it create a question for them, would it be interesting enough for them to follow through? Asking a simple question in the title is often a good way because it appeals to the lowest common denominator. Depending on your audience, this level is of course lower or higher than the average.

  • Neil Terrence
    Neil Terrence

    Simply amazing!!!! This is probably one of the best videos you have made thus far! The explanation was spot on! I hope you get even more successful as this year goes on. Your audience are here to support you :)

  • Getawaymoments

    FR-my is/was great when it's weird. When interesting people make video they want to make. When you start chasing a finicky audience you cannot win. Make great videos!!!! The audulience will come and go. That's life.

  • sanjay rohra
    sanjay rohra

    The viral video paradox

  • Ledcke

    Great video. Thanks for the insight. Did you draw those yourself and did you freehand it or use a projector etc? Keep being awesome.

  • Lourens Joubert
    Lourens Joubert

    So we will be seeing Veritasium videos with hot chicks in the thumbnail Science with boobs!!

  • Lourens Joubert
    Lourens Joubert

    And flipcharts are now trending on youtube!!

  • RedstoneEwok