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Nov 14, 2018

How YouTube recommendations work

This study by Pew Research Center does not analyze the algorithm itself, but derives insights from what is actually shown to users, and the results are interesting. In short: YouTube recommends slightly longer, and progressively more popular (higher view count) videos in relation to the one you started with. And only (depending on age) 15-25% of users say they don't use the recommendation feature - while roughly 2/3 of users in all age brackets use recommended videos occasionally. Also, there's a short tail of recommendations: During >170,000 random five-step walks through YouTube, 72% of recommended videos in this analysis were only shown one time, and 26% of videos were shown 2-10 times, but 2 percent of videos were shown 11-100 times and a tiny number of videos (<1%) were shown over 100 times as recommendations.

More super-interesting findings (51% of >4500 surveyed YouTube users say they go there to learn how to do stuff they haven't done before) and stats here: