No matter how you cut it, Psy's "Gangnam Style" is still among the top videos on YouTube.
A brief disappearance of the rap music video from YouTube's top charts this week had some pop news sites wondering whether a recently announced change in how YouTube ranks videos had dethroned the Korean pop phenomenon. "Gangnam Style" still has its place among the most viewed and liked videos in longer time frames, however. Its temporary departure from the top of the heap at YouTube yesterday (Oct. 16) was probably unconnected to YouTube's new algorithm for ranking videos, said one expert, Brian Shin of Visible Measures.
Over the last few months, YouTube has announced in blog posts that it's tweaking its search results and its watch-this-next suggestions to offer videos that viewers tend to watch all the way through and that encourage people to stay on YouTube.
Previously, the video-sharing site's search robots ranked a video high if it drew many clicks, but the rank didn't take into account whether people became bored during the video and stopped watching it. With the changes, YouTube hopes "to encourage people to spend more time watching, interacting and sharing with the community," the company wrote.
Yesterday "Gangnam Style" failed to appear in the list of top 100 videos for the week, its first such absence since July 31, according to Omona They Didn't, a Korean pop culture website. Omona They Didn't guessed that the change reflected the fact that many viewers weren't watching the video all the way through. East Asian culture site Kotaku wonderred if Psy's management had somehow gamed YouTube's previous ranking system into ranking "Gangnam Style" artificially high.
Shin disagreed. "Gangnam Style" dropping out of the top 100 videos of the week is probably not connected with YouTube's algorithm changes, he said. His company has developed its own measures of videos' effectiveness, and YouTube is one of Visible Measures' clients. The consultancy recently ran "Gangnam Style" through its own ranking and found the music video has huge reach.
The day-to-day vagaries of netizens' interests are likely to blame, Shin said. "For it to fade out for today, I think, is totally plausible," he told TechNewsDaily yesterday. "It could be content fatigue or it could just be other noise out there." He pointed to other topics dominating the news — and top videos — that day, including the U.S. presidential debate and skydiver Felix Baumgartner's jump from 23 miles above the Earth.
The original "Gangnam Style" video also appears as the first hit when people search for it on YouTube, indicating that YouTube's search is still working well for the music video, Shin said.
Shin thinks YouTube's recent changes are good for viewers. "By adding time spent, essentially they are trying to add a proxy for video quality," he said. "We think this is the right move for them to do."
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