YouTube has changed drastically over the years — with many distinctive eras of content creation and trends on the platform.
When asked which era was his favorite, ex-Smosh content creator Anthony Padilla answered: “I think it was probably around like 2011 to 2013-ish, where there was money to be made. Yet there wasn’t this idea that mainstream media had, of like anyone can do this and become a millionaire.”
He then continued to say “it just felt like creativity was what thrived most.”
Garnt ‘Gigguk’ Maneetapho followed up: “that era of YouTube, all of the biggest creators at that time, they all started YouTube not to make money, but because they enjoyed the creativeness of it.
“It progressed into people realizing that you can make this into a job, and it’s a legitimate business. Part of the magic is lost, as it transitioned into something else.”
The conversation flowed onwards to discuss the introduction of the YouTube Algorithm, which debuted in 2012.
Padilla shared his perspective, arguing that “the algorithm does reward the things that do have the highest retention, watching for the longest time, replaying the moments the most, the highest click-through rate of what looks most exciting.”
YouTubers, who now saw the platform as a business, were forced to become more strategic choices — creating a culture where creators attempted to cater towards this specific metric in order to optimize viewership.
During this introduction of the algorithm, the trends of what was viewed were evolving rapidly, resulting in confusion among creators, he claimed.
Padilla recalls the historic YouTube shift in trends. “I remember a higher-up breathing down my neck saying, ‘you guys usually get a million views in the first three days. What’s going on?'”
He then explains how “their entire company and all the x amount of employees are built on the performance of our videos.”
The introduction of the algorithm thereby forced Smosh, which of course included Anthony Padilla, to create longer form content — requiring less editing.