MENA has one of highest YouTube watch times globally: regional partnerships head

Bassant Mohammed
9 Min Read

The American video-sharing platform YouTube offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate videos as millions of registered users are permitted to upload unlimited content.

Most of the videos on YouTube are uploaded by individuals, but media corporations, including CBS, BBC, Vevo, and Hulu, offer some of their material via YouTube as part of a partnership programme with the platform.

“YouTube creators are the heartbeat of YouTube and supporting them is one of our priorities,” Diana Baddar, head of YouTube Partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa, said.

Baddar noted that the growth of Egyptian content on YouTube has been spearheaded by a diverse and growing community of creators from different parts of Egypt. Therefore, YouTube has launched its first Pop-Up Space in Egypt where creators experience new formats and ideas, and are inspired to continue creating engaging and powerful content on their channels.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Baddar to talk about the Pop-Up Space in Egypt, and how it helps local content creators to provide engaging content and attract specific audience.

How can YouTube’s Pop-Up Space help local content creators?

Pop-Up Space is our way of bringing YouTube’s support to the creator. At the event, we make sure that creators are getting what they need from knowledge to production equipment. We host workshops about topics like content strategy and production essentials. We also built a small state-of-the-art equipment so creators can experiment with new formats and storylines. To sum it up, the Pop-Up Space is supposed to be a one-stop shop for creators who are serious about their channels.

What is the selection process for the creators?

Typically, creators with at least 10,000 subscribers and no strikes on their channel are eligible to attend. This is an invitation-only event as well, so the creators who are part of the YouTube Partnerships Programme would have received an invite from their YouTube partner manager.

What happened to YouTube Space DXB?

To best address the needs of our growing creator base, we are doubling down on our Spaces Pop-up strategy. This enables us to scale to reach our creators where they are. This also means that we will be closing our partnered Spaces to make way for more Pop-ups in these geographically expansive regions.

The truth is that having a single space in a massive and rapidly growing region simply does not scale with the countless needs of our creators. That is why we are going to hit the road and offer a different model, using community-based programming and Pop-up Spaces in key markets to benefit more creators in more places.

Diana Baddar, head of YouTube Partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa

Why did you choose Egypt?

Egypt has always played a major role in Arab content creation, even long before the internet. We chose Egypt because we know that there is a dynamic and growing YouTube creator community here and we wanted to bring YouTube closer to them.

What is the Egyptian share of YouTube global views?

We do not release specific country views.

YouTube Pop-Up Space focused on gaming in Seoul and St. Petersburg, music in Stockholm and Nashville, what did you focus on in Egypt?

Since this was our first Pop-Up Space in Egypt, we did not want to narrow it down to one theme. But I can tell you that there was this general feeling of people wanting to learn and connect which made me very proud of being here.

How do you see the growth prospects of the Egyptian and Arab content in YouTube?

I see incredible potential, and especially here in Egypt and even more so within the female creator community. There is a decades-old tradition of creating content in Egypt, and YouTube is a blank canvas for creators to experiment with new types of content and new narratives. So, while I am very happy with the growth of Arab content, as a region we have one of the highest watch times globally, I am especially excited about the growing creator community in Egypt. Moreover, we have seen a meteoric rise of female creators in the Arab world, and we even dedicated a part of the event to women-led channels by hosting a female-only workshop designed to help these creators grow their channels.

Would YouTube replace TV in the coming years?

I think YouTube and TV complement each other. My team and I work closely with the region’s broadcasters to help them get their content on YouTube. We have seen different broadcaster experiment with various types of content, some choose to upload entire episodes, other are creating content especially for YouTube.

What training you offer for creators to increase their subscribers?

We work closely with top creators in the Arab world to help them create engaging content that would attract and retain their audience. We even compiled all the learnings we have from working with top creators from all over the world and put them on the YouTube Creator Academy, which has more than 200 courses that help you learn everything about YouTube; from how to make money on YouTube, to how to build your channel strategy.

In your opinion, with YouTube becoming one of news sources, how do you counter the spread of fake news, and does Pop-Up Space help creators to avoid publishing fake news?

We have invested in new product features to prominently surface credible sources. These features are currently launched in 30+ countries. We are also working to provide more context to users about the news they watch on YouTube. We started showing notices below videos uploaded by news broadcasters that receive some level of government or public funding. We are showing additional information cues, including developing news panels and a text box or information panel linking to third-party sources around widely accepted events, like the moon landing. We are looking to expand these to more topics.

Do you also give any training for content creators to face cyber bullying?

YouTube has policies against harassment and bullying as indicated in our Community Guidelines. We have ongoing conversations with creators on how to deal with those who violate these community guidelines. We review flagged content quickly, whether it is a comment or a video, and remove inappropriate videos according to our policies. We have an easy-to-use Help & Safety Tool that lets users and creators contact us about threatening comments and abuse. In addition, we provide information on harassment and bullying in our Policy and Safety Center.

Does YouTube provide any insights for the creators in order to know the specific number of views with details (the age, gender) like the Facebook insights?

Yes, each creator’s account has a page called YouTube Studio that contains a variety of data sets ranging from the gender to the locale of those watching their videos.

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