YouTube launches messaging service to keep users glued to their phones


YouTube, fresh off its announcement that it reaches a larger audience in advertiser’s key demographic, wants its users to spend more time inside its smartphone app.

The 11-year-old global video-sharing website is testing a new messaging service in its iOS and Android smartphone apps that allows users to connect with family and friends, the Associated Press reports. The beta service was released to a small group of people at first. If successful, it would become an update for all users.

“Youtube is examining whether the messaging feature will encourage its audience to spend even more time inside its popular video app,” the AP reports. “Currently, people typically copy links to YouTube and paste them into text messages or other messaging apps, such as Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.”

As reported, YouTube is entering a crowded messaging service market. iPhone users, for instance, can also share links via Apple’s Messages app, which allows users to send traditional SMS text messages and the company’s quicker, more efficient iMessage texts.

Keeping users in its app is critical for YouTube. Earlier this month, officials said its videos reach more 18- to 49-year-olds than any traditional broadcast TV network, citing a Nielsen study. That demographic is the target audience advertisers most seek.

Time Warner Cable Media pushed back on YouTube’s claim, calling ad-tech measurements unreliable.

“While it’s all digital, not all digital impressions are created equal,” Fred Bucher, head marketer at TWCM, told AdWeek.

YouTube’s push into the messaging world comes at a time when Facebook is ramping up its video services, allowing users to live-stream on the social network. Amazon also recently launched its own video service called Amazon Video Direct to compete with YouTube.