YouTube's rolling out a new feature called 'New to You', which is designed to help users discover content from channels that they've not previously viewed, but are aligned with their interests based on past viewing behavior.
The option is primarily focused on maximizing viewer engagement, but it may also help creators reach new audiences through targeted exposure.
As you can see here, users of the YouTube mobile app will soon start to see these new 'New to You' prompts appear in their top of feed 'Explore' recommendations. When tapped, users will then be taken to a listing of videos that are outside of their regular recommendations, expanding beyond the normal Explore listings.
Which is an important differentiation - as YouTube explains:
"Explore helps viewers on YouTube discover content in specific verticals, like Gaming or Beauty, or content that's trending worldwide, but it's not necessarily personalized to them. in other words, it doesn't take their specific interests into account. But New to You is unique in that it is personalized to the viewer. So we try to take a balance between things we think you might be interested in plus things that are a bit further afield of what you'd typically watch."
So it's like Explore, but more specifically dedicated to uncovering new channels and creators to each individual user, aligned to their specific usage behavior and interests.
For viewers, that could help them uncover totally new channels and niche interests - and ideally, keep them on YouTube for even longer - while for creators, it may help them gain additional exposure among viewers who'll be interested in their content, but would not have found them otherwise.
How effective the tool is will come down to how good YouTube's algorithm is at linking up key viewer trends and habits, and showcasing new content based on those connections. If it's able to highlight great stuff that you'd never even thought to look for, that could make it a valuable addition, but if the recommendations are too vague and untargeted, people won't be tapping that button too much.
It's an interesting experiment either way, and with so much content to choose from, it makes sense for YouTube to start recommending new content to users, and utilizing its full catalog where possible.
Now we await the next news story where a user has become radicalized after tapping on 'New to You' and being drawn into a conspiracy rabbit hole that they never knew existed.
New to You is rolling out from this week.