PROJECT NATIVE AWARENESS: YouTube is Not Your Friend

@Siddhi, @MaciejBud - your post the other day oddly timed with this, hoping if the community likes this concept we can focus it into this campaign strategy?

Everyone, thoughts appreciated. This is an outline, of course, a first pass. Augment, edit, or adjust as you see best suited.

Hope it all makes sense, cheers

Campaign Theme: WARNING LABELS for Social Media Platforms, Games and Apps.

  • A quick, simple video WARNING label in the form of a YouTube video.

  • Use YouTube’s own algorithm to generate awareness about the problems with YouTube’s algorithm using strategically placed media buys across channels and demographics most likely being influenced by the problem.

  • (While YouTube is the focus for this proposal, the same formula can be tweaked for almost any platform too).

  • Utilize a crowdfunding platform to generate further awareness, while funding the media buy for the campaign strategy.

Media Message:

(core message of the video. Can be delivered by an influencer, spokesperson, or just graphics)

YouTube is not your friend.

YouTube’s algorithm initiates addictive cycling of increasingly targeted videos that are designed to keep you hooked, agitated, or misinformed, all of the sake of another ad click.

Don’t fall for it.

Community for Humane Technology paid YouTube to warn you about the dangers of YouTube’s algorithm.

We shouldn’t have to.

We propose YouTube voluntarily run video warnings in the discovery queue, and automatically present to users consuming more than (x) number of videos.

We propose regulations requiring all platforms to warn their users of the addictive nature of their algorithms.

We have warning labels for cigarettes, alcohol, or any potentially harmful activity or substance. Now we have one for YouTube.

YouTube is not your friend

@hmswaffles - the regulation component

Video requirements: :15 seconds ideal, :30 seconds maximum.

The first five seconds of the video should deliver the main message to take advantage of maximum reach for less cost.

Strategic media planning: Leverage YouTube’s own keywords, search terms, and ad platform to place media buys on specific channels. Multiple different unique instances of the same message can be tailored to specific demographics, gamers, conspiracy theorists, etc etc.

I have experienced YouTube media buyers who can volunteer to do the strategic placements if needed.

Basically, we can expect such a message to cost an estimated .05 per 30 second view, but if we optimize the first five seconds and assume a conversion of 5% (meaning most people will skip the ad, which they mostly do) every five :30 views means that YouTube will have shown the five second impression to 95 people.

Crowdfund the message:

DIRECT ACTION CROWDFUNDING: For our crowdfunded video, ideally, we would need a one minute video that speaks specifically to the YouTube platform problem and raises money specifically on the number of people reached for the amount donated. We can even bundle “special gifts” to higher donations.

This is direct action, meaning 100% of the donation goes to the media buy (meaning yes, YouTube) and essentially, we want to encourage people to adopt a person to receive this message at a cost of .05 per person. (this is estimated costs, lowest is .02 CPV, and it could go higher as much as .08 CPV)

For example:

  • Donate $10 and reach 200 gamers on PewdiePie’s channel (as an example)

  • Donate $30 and reach 600 people on YouTube watching conspiracy videos (as an example)

  • Donate $100 and reach 2,000 viewers of box opening videos. As a bonus, we will deliver 200 views to any video of your choice.

What the community needs to pull this off:

I can volunteer the strategy, help with copy, conceptual and strategic media plan and buy. My team has been doing optimized YouTube media buys for years and years, we gamed YouTube starting as early as 2008, so we can apply a lot of clever strategies for audience reach.

Right now, my team does not have the bandwidth to make videos. Ideally, it would be great to find an influencer or someone within the community who can make the video. We can help with storyboarding, writing, etc if needed but we do have a bandwidth problem but can consult and assist at any step in the process.

We need some variation of videos for YouTube (30 seconds each) and a longer form Crowdfund video (this isn’t really messaged clearly yet, I thought the community could weigh in on this, but we can help storyboard too if necessary)

The only cost to this campaign is the direct media buy to YouTube. Considering we could raise 100% easily within the community alone, and continue to run multiple crowdfunded direct action projects like this.

Naturally, we can bring the crowdfunding video back to CHT, obviously they have incredible social media reach, so we want to share the CHT message clearly in the video as well since I would imagine there are many deep pockets within their community and a properly timed social media launch involving them could likely be instantaneously successful.

Thoughts?

6 Likes

I like this, lots of good thinking in your proposal. Even just saying “Youtube is not your friend” is a great intro for the first five seconds.

I like the crowdfunding part, too. I will put feelers out for someone who can make videos, though @max (Max Stossel) would be an ideal first choice, assuming he’s not busy.

Thoughts –

There are some tweaks I’d consider making to the core message copy:

  • consider moving “We have warning labels for cigarettes…” idea nearer to the front of the message, so people use the metaphor to interpret the rest of the message
  • re: the “hooked, agitated, misinformed” line, another negative is opportunity cost: Youtube robs you of the opportunity to discover your thoughts, connect with people or books, or be bored enough to create
  • We might also get further if we acknowledged that youtube has positives, like that it can inform, educate, and help us escape into a fantasy world
  • Maybe we could link to the Ledger of Harms?
  • Perhaps we can also tweak the message to include something about how Youtube intentionally does not explicitly tone down the quality / “addictiveness” of recommendations after it gets late?

You have more video experience than I, so feel free to take, leave or comment on these considerations.

As for the crowdfunding, everything you’ve written sounds good. Donorbox may be something to consider, too.

2 Likes

@aschrijver, what do you think?

1 Like

I think this is a great idea that could also apply to other social media platforms like Facebook.

I have a few comments:

  • It might be worth checking with a lawyer what we could or could not say in the video - especially if we back everything to CHT - to avoid bad surprises.
  • It would be great to localize this video in other languages. A lot of content about social media highjacking is available in English only. To have a global impact, I think it is worth localizing in a few other languages. I can take care of French.
  • It might be hard to get YouTubers to participate in the video since they are making money out of YouTube but it is worth trying as the impact could be huge. I work with several YouTubers on sponsored campaigns and can ask them how they feel about this to get a first idea.

Let me know what you think!

2 Likes

@JipDK, welcome! Just a quick reminder: we can’t mention or speak on behalf of CHT, because we are HTC, a community forum started and funded by CHT, but independent from it. So we can craft our message as we want but we can’t involve CHT in it.

2 Likes

Thanks @micheleminno! I am glad to be part of the community and fully ready to get more active. Well noted about the relationship between CHT and HTC.

2 Likes

@JipDK you are right that it may be difficult to get people to participate. But there are specifc types of content creators that may be okay with it (commentary channels, specific tech channels). Also, welcome!

1 Like

Thanks @Siddhi! I already talked with one of my friends who is working with influencers to promote ethical and green projects. He would be happy to support once we have clearer idea of how we would like to involve the influencers and in which languages we will push it.

2 Likes

Wow, this escalated nicely, thanks for chiming in.

Good thinking on the tweaks, mine were meant as first pass. Agree moving the warning label to the top is smart. Yes, could link to ledger of harms, it might even be a good idea if there is a ledger of harms specifically devoted to the platform the message is presented on, making it easier for people to digest and share.

I think it’s a good idea to show positive of YouTube (especially if the campaign is to get YouTube to adopt i) that’s good thinking.:+1: That’s important - I believe we want to present a centered viewpoint and not appear like reactionary grandmas in the 50’s concerned about Elvis Presley.

The message should be ‘let’s make YouTube better’ not “Lets burn down YouTube”

We can keep refining the message from these discussions, i’ll present another pass based on comments so far.

Hi JipDK, welcome to the community and thanks for jumping in with ideas. Good idea. That means that we really want to make sure we are making statements of fact, contextualized responsibly to third party reporting, studies, etc

BRILLIANT! yes, in all languages.

oye, we have lots of work to do. but this is what the crowdfunding can address too.

Wow! I wasn’t even expecting that, I was suggesting we could target the ad buy against a YouTuber’s channel. That would be amazing.

When it comes to working with channels, we also have to brand the HTC channel or CHT channel. Do we already have a YouTube Channel? (which could have longer form presentations about the ledger of harms and other videos, this warning ad could also direct the audience towards more CHT content. Anyway, involving multiple media channels is smart, but requires coordination and planning in the timing.

Perhaps, actually, this could be something influencers could also adopt, append to the end of their videos, (say a shorter :15 version) as well?

good collaboration!

We just need some video creators. I can probably find time to mock up a storyboard video which could be recreated professionally.

2 Likes

Great! I think some sort of storyboard – anything we can do to make this more concrete – will allow us to more easily approach would-be video creators.

I’ve created a Google doc so we can revise the copy. I’ve included my second pass on the text, as well as your original proposal. I’m looking forward to your edits / your next version.

And, once we agree to lock in the copy, then we’ll be ready for translation.

@JipDK you bring up a great point.

I think we should be fine with linking back to the ledger of harms, as it is a public document, as long as we are clearly not speaking on behalf of the CHT. Besides, they can always ask us to take it down before they pay a lawyer to do so. Also, in the proposed copy, I’ve avoided making claims about YouTube.

2 Likes

I can help with video/visual design when it is necessary.

1 Like

wow, dood, you move fast! Okay will get to this soon as a I can. sleepy time now I’m on PST, got a day tmrw.

thanks team!

1 Like

That’s the missing component at this stage, but no longer.

Thanks team!

1 Like

@borja you may be interested in this also

I spent some work on a third pass. Not sure if its better to develop concept here or on the google doc?

It’s starting to develop a hint or two of a “funny” tone, I think which could be helpful.

1 Like

This is a really interesting campaign but I believe there’s something fundamentally wrong.

I’m an experienced marketer, and one of the things we get wrong all the time is that we think that if we tell people something’s wrong, they’d stop doing it. That’s hardly the case.

Cigarette warning labels were a huge boost for cigarette sales, because there’s a part of our brain that feels “attraction” to that danger. (There’s a book called Buyology that explains this case)

So I don’t know how I would do it, but this is about showing them, not telling them. Maybe it could be a practical video showing the consequences of using YouTube or something like that.

I have an article were I explain how the awareness process works, I think it could be helpful here.

4 Likes

That is certainly how it seems to work. It was also part of the reasoning to reorganize the community with ‘solution-orientation’, positivity and optimism, first and foremost, and to make the separation of ‘Harms of Technology’.

You mention cigarette labels, but for e.g. ‘Surveillance Capitalism’ a better analogy is climate change. Everyone knows that something is awfully wrong (we actually triggered our own mass extinction event, the Holocene), but the problem seems to large to deal with by mere individuals, so “it goes beyond us, so let others handle it” is often heard.

Hi Borja, nice to meet you, and glad to learn there is someone with marketing experience in the community.

I read your article, nice work, impressive thinking. I really like the example in the article you gave, regarding the shit/defecation problem and how it was communicated in outreach.

While I’m not sure if I can see what you do in regards to the utility of warning labels (there has been plenty of study on this issue), while there might be some negative effect with what people do with the knowledge that there is danger, informing that there is danger is indeed responsible, I assume you’re not suggesting to not inform users of the harm, so I do think that we should really consider the narrative delivering the message.

I don’t look at this as a marketing campaign, but rather an awareness strategy where the message is customized native to the platform it is discovered on, communicating the “danger” and harm on that particular platform.

That’s the core strategy, independent of messaging; and I believe your comment is focused on how the message itself is conveyed around the “danger” itself, correct?

So your article opened up some thinking for me.

Where I think your suggestion comes into play perhaps in a very powerful way is in the distribution of the message on each platform, using the tools of each platform to target users, “game” keywords in search, etc perhaps initiate re-messaging and retargeting, and show them literally how an individual can be “stalked” by a brand and the technology itself turns the brand into the predator, making the message a bit more “meta”. It could actually open up a lot of creativity for the message itself, the message could be transparent with the user how they found them, etc

But a core problem we are making the user aware of is not just the data privacy side (which is where the user is monetized by the platform) but in the addictive qualities. This messaging, which we would encourage platforms to adopt, is similar to a bartender serving drinks, and after serving more than a few drinks to a customer is ethically and in many cases legally bound to remind them “haven’t you had enough?”. That’s an awareness message to the customer, not a marketing message to quit drinking.

This intention at least hopefully will at least create “mindfulness” in the moment of that user, even if they disregard the message and go on to another bar or video, the message is presented to them to remind them.

Thoughts?

Likely, we won’t know what works best of course until we launch and ideally we can have multiple messages and content, and then the data back will tell us which messages resonate and which ones don’t. Ultimately, we want viewers of the message to “see” what we “mean” by “harm”, so we are in agreement there for sure.

We probably just need to create some content we believe will work, make mistakes, and not repeat the same mistake twice.

The double part of the campaign was in the crowdfunding of the message, although I don’t think I highlighted it as clearly, but the theme of the crowdfunding is “adopt a viewer”, similar to how some awareness campaigns for charities run," adopt a child $5 a month feeds a child for a month", etc and then back their donation into the media buy.

1 Like

There’s a steady stream of articles about the deep problems YouTube faces, every week. They capture the majority of media-consumption hours not spent on curated mass entertainment (which has its own problems, but doesn’t morph quickly enough to support aggressively-optimized mind hacking).

Just a briefly-annotated catalog of the latest week’s discoveries, described with persistent long-context of how our communities / attention / self-image are being abused, would be helpful and impactful. I find that journalists and analysts are not blind to these harms and changes, they just lack context (and a place to store and aggregate context over time) to convert their momentary discoveries into longer narratives, and then action.

2 Likes

I think the cigarette labels is a warning example of how psychology works. Because it’s clear that smoking harms the smoker, and simple fact of stating it, it triggers people to smoke even more. But yes, the climate change example goes on a similar line too.

Nice to meet you too, @NSaikiwiki. “I assume you’re not suggesting to not inform users of the harm, so I do think that we should really consider the narrative delivering the message.” That’s exactly the point.

Just FYI, this is a marketing campaign. The problem is that selfish marketers have put a different badge on marketing, but that badge should only go to manipulators, not marketers. Marketing is about spreading ideas. It’s about moving people. Resonating with people.

On your point @NSaikiwiki, I believe waiting for regulations is futile. We need to push them. You can’t force them to communicate the dangers of using their technology. And even if you do, nobody is gonna care because their tools are so persuasive that no matter how many time you communicate the dangers. People are gonna keep just using it.

And even if we achieve some sort of regulations, they can just get their way around them. Just like Facebook is going to pay the biggest fine ever (5 billion), which is the equivalent of the earnings of a couple of weeks.

I’ve given a lot of thoughts to this problems, and I’ve talked with a lot of experts. Here’s my take:

  • Awareness is the key to the whole things. But you can’t spread awareness through the masses–the early adopters are the ones who carry the message and push it to the masses. (Read here how innovations spread)
  • Plain awareness doens’t work. Because the pile of benefits of knowing what they’re doing to us isn’t greater than the pile of benefits we just by using their products.
  • The only way to get to the level that we need, is to find dramatic examples that show people the real consequences of using their product and get practical on how they’re impacting our lives.
3 Likes