Welcome back to the Publisher Lab! This week on the agenda is YouTube’s algorithm in 2023, Google’s new Generative Search Experience, and the growing concern amongst publishers of declining traffic. If you would prefer to listen to the podcast, you can find our episodes on PublisherLab.org or watch the episode on our YouTube channel.
In this episode of the Publisher Lab, Tyler Bishop is joined by his co-host, Whitney Wright, both of which just returned from exciting adventures abroad. Whitney was busy at Affiliate Gathering—sponsored by Ezoic—in York, England before jetting off to visit her family in Northern Africa. Tyler reveals that he had a fun time in Cabo, Mexico, which is a quick flight away from their base in San Diego.
Affiliate Gathering was a great opportunity to meet publishers face-to-face and all of the Ezoic members who attended mentioned how much they enjoyed talking with everyone. Altogether, the event was a great success and Ezoic was happy to sponsor.
At Affiliate Gathering, artificial intelligence was a hot topic. AI is already making significant changes in various areas and it will continue to impact publishers in the near and distant future. While it can be exciting to see the growth of AI, there was also a sense of concern about the implications of AI and its influence on the digital publishing industry. Ezoic had the opportunity to both host a workshop on AI in video and speak as a headliner, providing reassurance that AI is not an impending apocalypse but rather a powerful tool that, if mastered, can propel publishers forward.
On the podcast, Tyler mentioned that there was a recent joint statement released that advocated for a pause in AI research to prevent the extinction of humankind. The sentiment and overarching goal are definitely valid concerns, but ultimately, we are still far from such a scenario.
Currently, AI is still a game-changing tool for publishers. Those who can harness its power and stay ahead of the curve are more likely to thrive, while others who lag behind or fail to utilize it effectively may find themselves left behind. With AI being the most relevant topic for publishers right now, it’s crucial to understand its potential and leverage it as a tool for success.
What to Expect of the YouTube algorithm in 2023
In a recent interview between YouTube’s Creator Liaison and YouTube’s Growth and Discovery lead, the impact of algorithms on creators in the coming year was discussed. The interview highlighted the importance of audience satisfaction over algorithmic manipulation. They emphasized that YouTube’s algorithm considers factors like watch time, surveys, recommendations, likes, and dislikes to identify patterns and improve content discovery.
The conversation acknowledged the ongoing exploration of AI implementation in YouTube and the broader industry. When you consider all that is happening with AI—such as the new, transformative AI in tools like Photoshop or a future where filmmakers can produce Hollywood-quality content from their laptops without extensive training—it makes sense that people are concerned. However, while AI can enhance content creation, it still requires artistic vision and imagination. It’s important to recognize the importance of content differentiation and audience engagement, regardless of the platform, as creators seek to build and sustain their audiences.
In light of the interview, it becomes evident that YouTube is aligning its approach with Google’s philosophy, prioritizing audience satisfaction over algorithmic manipulation. As video publishing continues to gain popularity, creators are urged to build meaningful relationships with their audiences and adapt to the evolving landscape. It’s becoming evident that the challenges faced by video creators are those experienced by website publishers previously.
Google Search Generative Experience is live for some
Many of those who were on the waitlist to try Google’s new Search Generative Experience now have access. Based on screenshots from Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable, the new AI search engine provides more clickable results alongside the AI results than anticipated. Users can now explore expanded answers with clickable links, providing a more comprehensive experience. AI-generated responses are currently unavailable for news-related topics and politics due to concerns about false information. Medical information, although featured prominently, includes disclaimers that it is not a diagnosis.
While the platform shows promise, its potential for widespread adoption is questionable. It’s more likely that users will gravitate towards AI engines with additional features and functions rather than relying solely on an AI-driven search experience. With plugins and add-ons, existing AI models like OpenAI’s GPT can offer more tailored and versatile experiences. This approach allows users to customize the AI to their specific use cases. Furthermore, the current AI search engine may appear daunting to the general public, especially those less technologically savvy, potentially limiting its initial appeal beyond SEO experts and publishers.
Despite slow adoption concerns, some foresee a future where AI agents become more prevalent. These agents, equipped with the power of AI engines like OpenAI, can assist users in various tasks and deliver unique value. They may serve as personal research assistants, customer support chatbots, or even real-time website managers. The younger generations, such as Gen Z and Gen Alpha, are more likely to embrace and explore such AI-powered tools as they grow into the workforce. However, the broader population, particularly the current dominant Baby Boomer generation, may struggle to adopt AI due to technological barriers. To bridge this gap, the development of user-friendly AI interfaces and mechanisms will be crucial for widespread acceptance among all age groups.
Publishing Trends Report 2023 – Declining traffic is a major issue for publishers
In the Publishing Trends Report 2023, EchoBox highlights a growing concern among publishers regarding declining website traffic. The annual survey revealed that 47% of publishers now consider declining traffic as a major issue, a significant increase from the previous year’s 25%. Increasing website traffic remains a top priority for 63% of publishers, while 53% plan to focus on finding new audiences. The report also indicates a rising interest in creating video content, with nearly 50% of respondents expressing their intention to explore this medium. Furthermore, 48% of publishers stated that applications such as Chat GPT have influenced their perception of AI’s potential in their business strategies. Regarding social media, Instagram emerged as the platform believed to be more important by 66% of publishers.
Amid these trends, it’s important to remain cautious about being risk-averse and relying solely on traditional strategies. They emphasize the importance of creating engaging and high-quality content tailored to the target audience. While the concerns expressed by publishers about declining traffic are not universally observed, it is crucial to adapt to the evolving landscape of digital publishing. The key to long-term success lies in understanding and catering to the audience’s preferences. Authenticity and a genuine connection with the audience are deemed more valuable than solely focusing on algorithmic optimizations. As the publishing industry undergoes transformative changes, content creators are advised to stay adaptable and open to new approaches.
While some individuals may report negative impacts following algorithm updates or other changes, the overall consensus does not support the notion of a widespread decline. Instead, current trends in digital publishing indicate a shift towards prioritizing high-quality and authentic content. Younger generations, in particular, value content that feels genuine and less showy, fostering a sense of trust and relatability. Publishers who focus on their audience, experiment with new strategies, and maintain an authentic presence are predicted to thrive in this evolving landscape. Conversely, those who primarily chase algorithmic rankings and fail to understand their audience’s needs may face difficulties in the long run.
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In this exciting and transformative time for publishers, it is crucial for every publisher to embrace change and explore new strategies. The key is to venture into uncharted territory and try dynamically different approaches. This period calls for experimentation and the willingness to step outside the comfort zone. Publishers are encouraged to stay open to new ideas and constantly seek opportunities for growth and adaptation. It is essential to keep up with the latest trends and developments in the industry, while also maintaining a critical mindset. By embracing these practices, publishers can navigate the ever-changing landscape and stay ahead in the game.