YouTube is testing a new comment display option, which will show viewer comments at specific, timed points within the playback, which could provide more context on their intention and meaning, while also highlighting where the best conversation is happening around each clip.
As you can see in this example, shared by Android Police, the new timed comment display will bring up viewer comments at the point in which they were made during the clip.
As explained by YouTube:
"We’re currently testing a new feature that allows you to view comments timed to the exact moment you're watching in a video. This experiment is available on some videos to a small group of people and we'll consider rolling this out more broadly based on feedback."
So not everyone can access the option as yet.
To check if you're in the test group, go to the comments section within the YouTube app (on iOS or Android) and tap the 'Sort' button at the bottom right of the playback window. If you have access, you'll see the "Timed Beta” option in the list.
As Android Police notes, it's very similar to the old SoundCloud type comment display, which enables listeners to share their enthusiasm about certain elements of each track.
Will that inspire more engagement on YouTube clips?
It's hard to say, but it's certainly an interesting option, which could have value in inspiring viewer behavior, and engagement. It could also provide more insight as to what viewers are engaging with most on your video clips.
In a separate test, YouTube also recently started sharing new digital literacy tips in the form of 15-second skippable ads that appear before selected clips.
The process is designed to address rising concerns around digital literacy, and people sharing fake reports, with the impact of misinformation causing significant division and angst. That's been particularly prevalent within the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, with vaccine misinformation running rife on social networks.
YouTube says the test is being conducted with a small group of users in the US, while the tips are being shown at random, with the content of the video they come before not related to their placement.
YouTube will assess the results for deciding on a potential expansion of the prompts.