Alert – YouTube Displays Competitors in YOUR Videos

After all my touting of how great YouTube is of promoting your company online they go and get sneaky on me when I’m looking the other way.

YouTube has been great for promoting businesses online because it doesn’t take much effort and expense to produce a decent video that showcases a customer testimonial, a new product you are working on, highlights from a tradeshow or interviews with key staff members.   When you post a video to YouTube visitors to the site can find your video when using search terms that match keyword tags that you apply to the video.  In addition, YouTube generates HTML code for the video that you can copy and paste to embed in your website, blog or various social media websites.

Now YouTube has added an extra “feature” – before, when your video was finished playing, it would display a “replay” button for the user to play it again.  Now, instead of just providing this replay button, YouTube also is displaying related videos that users can click to view.  That means if are a real estate agent and you post a video of some of your property you are selling in your area, another agent’s video from a competing agency might show up at the end of your video.  Or if you sell sporting goods out of a small mom and pop sporting goods store, a video from Target or WalMart might show up at the end of your video for their sporting goods department.  Or even worse, you use YouTube videos to promote your church and somehow, due to a strange use of tagging, a pole dancer video shows up as a related video.  Really bad idea from YouTube.  And worse yet, it is retro-active to all the vidoes you have already posted and may have embedded on your website or blog already.  And as an added bonus, I have found no way to turn this off in my own YouTube account.

I did a little poking around the and found some code that you can add to your embed code – however, it doesn’t work if you have a WordPress blog – I tried it myself to confirm.  Also, it is supposed to be easy for users to embed their YouTube videos on their websites – having to add HTML code to embed code to fix the issue is not very user-friendly.  Anyway, if you are up to it, here is the code you add at the end of your embedded code that YouTube provides:

param name="rel" value="0"

I’m going to continue following up on this topic and will report any updates as I find them.  Not having control over content that plays within your own site is just not acceptable.  You may want to look into Vimeo.com as an alternative for embedding your videos in your online marketing.

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2 comments so far

  1. johnlacey on

    I’m not sure this really is YouTube being ‘sneaky.’ The purpose of the related videos is to further engage viewers in the experience that is YouTube. If you are mindful of the titles you give your videos – and even moreso, the video tags – those related videos may very well be your own. Yet by the same token they might be about you, or as you suggest above, your competitors.

    Whether to use the related videos feature in an embedded video depends mostly on where it is and what it is and your own personal goals for that video and the website/blog it appears on.

    • Brent Haeseker on

      Thanks John, I appreciate the feedback. While “sneaky” may or may not be the correct terminology, what I take issue with is the lack of control on the users end and being forced to accept whatever content “YouTube” deems related to your video, instead of “You”. YouTube has grown in large part from users who recognize they can post promotional videos to further their careers and business. When YouTube forces users to accept links to other content without an opt out – especially, when they retro activate it on all the currently uploaded videos, it is a bad thing. As a business owner in today’s economy, I’d be ticked to see competitor video links showing up on my website. I would liken it to Google’s Adsense program – if Google Adsense was forced onto everyone’s website and was displaying ads to competitors that would also be a bad thing – however, users have the ability to opt in (or out by default) to this service.


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