YouTube News: Notifications Updates

Both the TeamYouTube [Help] and Creator Insiders channels (an official and unofficial/informal branch of YouTube communication, respectively) have released videos about new updates to YouTube Notifications this week.

In “Notifications | Backstage at YouTube”, a summary of the updates to YouTube notifications is given, as well as suggestions for viewers to make sure they can receive Notifications on their device.

The video opens explaining what Notifications are - something those of us who live on YouTube everyday take for granted, but people who only passively use the platform may not fully understand. “Notifications” (in this context) are messages to viewers indicating that new videos have been uploaded from channels they’re subscribed to.

Members of the notifications development team were interviewed for some of the segments, and noted that there have been cases where YouTube Notifications experienced outages - scenarios where Notifications were not sent out to viewers. This is specifically a problem when many creators post their video live at the exact same time, such as right on the hour (a very common practice).

The team says they’ve alleviated these outages, and updated Notifications to be more clear.

This sentiment is echoed further in the “3 BIG Notification Updates - EXPLAINED!” video from Creator Insider, where James - the Product Manager for Notifications who was also interviewed in the previous video - states that they’ve put in a lot of work to fix the causes of Notification outages and that the Notification system is now “very viable”, which the team is quite proud to have accomplished.

According to James, extensive testing and experimenting was done - including sending out user surveys - to get to the best possible UI (user interface) state for Notifications, resulting in changes to the language and icons for the Notifications Bell. This makes it easier to understand for the viewer, which means it’ll see more use and benefit the creator better.

Now the icon has three states - Off, Personalized Notifications, and All Notifications. This should present a menu to the viewer upon clicking the Bell icon, giving them these options - however as my luck usually has it, this change seems to not have rolled out to me just yet. The default option seems to be All Notifications, which is good news for creators.

Both videos mention that a big point of confusion for the viewer is the fact that each individual smartphone’s notification settings have an impact here, and the TeamYouTube video walks through the steps to ensure you get Notifications, as a viewer:

  • First, make sure you’re logged into the correct YouTube account on mobile, of course.
  • Second, enable Notifications for a channel.
  • Third, go to your phone’s notifications settings and make sure the YouTube app has notifications enabled.

These steps are useful for viewers who happen to see it, but also for creators who may want to utilize their Calls to Action inside of videos to clarify how Notifications work and how viewers can make sure they’re set up properly to “never miss a video!”

Along with that, a new Analytics section has been added regarding Notifications. This shows how many of your subscribers have enabled All Notifications for your channel, and what percentage of that group is considered “reachable” - which means they have both in-app Notifications enabled and have enabled YouTube Notifications in their smartphone. This helps inform the creator if they might need to spend more time educating their subscribers on how to do so, or reminding them to set it up. I just wish it also showed how many subscribers enabled Partial or Personalized Notifications, as well - seems weird to have omitted this bit of information.

James also presented three tips for creators to optimize their Notifications experience, though I don’t personally feel two of them even apply to most creators:

  • You only get 3 Notifications uses per day, so if you upload more than 3 videos per day, you need to pick and choose by utilizing the “Do not Notify Subscribers” option in your video publishing settings. (But how many channels uploading 5 videos per day are really complaining about Notifications not working? Who would want Notifications for such a channel? Just thinking to myself, here…)
  • Don’t upload or publish exactly on the hour. I’ve been saying this one for a while - it’s very common practice to publish exactly on the hour, but since “everyone” is doing it, uploading at oddball minute times is very helpful for having your video stand out, and I’ve been using Tubebuddy to do this very thing for a couple years now. It works wonders.
  • Lastly, don’t try to game the Notifications system by making your video Public, then Private, then Public again for duplicate Notifications. Only one will be sent out and you’ll hurt the video performance doing this.

Overall this is a great update to see, and I like that they’re educating creators and viewers more about how the system works. I’d like to see deeper Analytics regarding how many subscribers are clicking those Notifications, specific times/days where Notifications are most actively utilized, and the Partial Notifications inclusion I mentioned before.

Personally, I’m terrible about never even mentioning the “Bell Icon” in my Calls to Action since I don’t use push notifications as a viewer myself, but there’s definitely some good information here to optimize your use of them.


Tech educator, '90s and '00s Nostalgia Nerd, Pixel and Framerate Junkie. 12 years on YouTube is a loooong time.

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