The mystery is over. YouTube, in another in a long series of overdue moves, has revealed some real information about how people find your YouTube videos. In my case, it turns out that my most popular videos happen to be declared “related” to some other, more popular videos. I’ve never questioned the success of the “Bad Webcam Sex” video, which is naturally connected to all kinds of filth that people are mistakenly looking for on YouTube instead of the entire rest of the Internet. What really surprised me was the sudden and unexpected rise of viewers for Two Night Stand. I’ve now learned that nearly 50% of the traffic comes from being “related” to a video called “Fake Wife Swap” which was made for one of those 24-hour film festival challenges. 90% of Two Night Stand viewers come from related videos.
The other big change—which still hasn’t quite worked itself out yet—is the so-called “high quality” option for YouTube videos. On certain videos (the criteria isn’t at all clear to me) you can add &fmt=6 to the URL and get a significantly better video. Unfortunately I don’t know what you have to upload in order to get the higher quality. Is it a higher resolution, or a higher bitrate that I should be going for? Adding &fmt=6 to most videos gets you the usual blender-set-on-purée look. Some guidance from YouTube would be nice.
UPDATE: Brian Gary has an article at kenstone.net explaining the best settings to use to take advantage of YouTube’s higher quality options.