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2014 Year in Review: YouTube and Google+ closer than ever

In 2014 YouTube and Google+ integration really took off. On November 6, 2013 YouTube switched to the new Google+-based commenting system. Over the past year YouTube and Google+ became even more tightly entwined. YouTube and Google+ introduced a number of new features, while we said goodbye to others (RIP YouTube Inbox).

There was a change at the top for both products. At YouTube Susan Wojcicki - formerly Google SVP for advertising - took over from Salar Kamangar, while over on Google+ Vic Gundotra was replaced by former Google+ VP of Engineering Dave Besbris. I think it's still too early to say whether that represents a significant shift in direction, but their interviews at Re/code give a sense of direction things are heading:

What was new for Google+ and YouTube in 2014?

As YouTube and Google+ become more integrated, many new features are only available to channels connected to Google+. It also means that YouTube Creators need to keep abreast of updates to Google+ as well as YouTube.

Here are the 2014 updates that I think most affected Google+-connected YouTube channels :

One of the advantages of the new Google+ comment system on YouTube is viewing and moderating all your channel and video comments in one place.
There are also now more refined comment management options. Filter comments by individuals or Google+ circles, or by keywords.

You can also choose which comments to highlight on your channel, be it commenters with 1000+ subscribers or those comments from your subscribers and fans.

 Google+ Audience Settings and Improved Blocking

Over the course of the year, Google+ has provided more tools for controlling who can see your Google+ posts and add you to their Google+ circles. Since YouTube comments are also Google+ posts, these settings may also affect who can see your comments (at least those shared to Google+).

You can now limit the "audience" for your Google+ Profile or Google+ Page by age and geographical location. If you only want Australians older than 50 to see your content, you can do that! Currently this only blocks restricted users from viewing your Google+ posts - they can still see your comments on posts and photos.

Learn more:
You can also block Pages and Profiles on Google+. If you block someone:
  • you are removed from each others circles, and the blocked profile can't add you back to their circles
  • they can't see your posts or comments and you can't see their posts
  • they can't contact you via Google+ or Google Hangouts
Be aware, though, that someone you have blocked on Google+ can comment on your videos, and you won't be able to see what they've posted. To prevent people you've blocked from commenting on your videos, also ban then in your YouTube channel's community settings.

Learn more:

YouTube Messages replaces the YouTube Inbox

In June YouTube introduced private Messages, which replaces the old YouTube Inbox. The new system is Google+ based, which means your channel must be connected to Google+ to send or receive messages.

The new messaging system also has some limitations: you can only send a message to one channel at a time, and you cannot delete your sent messages.

For group private messaging with more options, you now need to share a private post on Google+ with people, pages or circles.

New Custom URLs for Google+ Pages, Profiles and, now, YouTube channels

In October 2013, Google+ expanded the availability of vanity URLs to most Google+ Profiles and Pages. Unlike some social networking sites, you don't have the option to choose you own custom URL, instead your eligible Page or Profile is offered one or more choices based on the name, linked website, and other factors.

In November, YouTube adopted the same custom URL system. Now your YouTube channel will have the same vanity ID as the Google+ Profile or Page it's connected to. This is an opportunity for older channels to switch to a different custom URL, with the limitation that your only URL options are those offered to you by Google+ and YouTube.

Google+ URL:
YouTube channel URL: (note the /c/ in the URL)

You may be offered a URL based on the eligibility of your Google+ Page or Profile, eligibility of your YouTube channel, or both. If your Google+ Page already has a custom URL, the connected YouTube channel already has a new-style URL. If not, your eligible channel with a linked website or at least 500 subscribers may be offered one.

Older /user/ YouTube URL will continue to work, and need not match the new custom URL.

 YouTube Creator Studio Mobile App

In June YouTube rearranged the navigation on YouTube channels, introducing the new "Creator Studio", where you can find links to all your creator tools, including your video manager, comment moderation, YouTube Analytics and the video editor.

YouTube also released the YouTube Creator Studio mobile app, bringing to your phone or tablet. The new app lets you read and filter comments, view basic analytics and update your video details and settings. You can also get notifications when there are notable changes to your channels viewership or subscribers.

It's still missing a lot of functionality that is still only available on the desktop, but it's a good start towards managing your channel while out and about.

Google+ Profile Name Policy Update: (almost) any name goes

When Google+ started out in 2011, real names were required. In 2012 that policy shifted to require "name-shaped" names ( Finally, in July of this year the Google+ profile name policy was updated so that almost any name goes - even single word names, business names, and clearly made-up pseudonyms. Google+ apologized for the difficulties caused by the original policy:
We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be. Thank you for expressing your opinions so passionately, and thanks for continuing to make Google+ the thoughtful community that it is.
YouTube channels have never been required to be connected to a Google+ Profile with a real name, despite what some poorly-informed reporters have claimed. But this new policy now makes it much clearer that you can use pretty much any name you want.

What that means is that YouTuber creators now can more easily choose between using a Google+ Page or a Google+ Profile for their channel identity.

And just a few weeks ago, Google+ announced that the gender on Google+ Profiles is now completely customizable ( Your Google+ Profile can now better represent you the way you want to be known.

Google My Business for Google+ Pages

In June Google introduced "Google My Business". This isn't just a re-branding of Google+ Pages; Google also introduced new tools for business owners and brands.

I put together an overview of the new features of special interest to YouTube creators, which include:
  • create a new Google+ Brand Page
without having to create a Google+ Profile

  • new Google+ Page dashboard with Analytics and Insights
  • new Google app launcher for Google+ Pages
  • new Google My Business app for managing Google+ Pages and viewing Insights data on mobile devices

  • Learn more:

    Import your videos from Google+ to YouTube

    Finally, you can now easily import your videos from your Google+ Profile or Page to your connected YouTube channel. That lets you use YouTube's video editor, add a custom thumbnail, closed captions and more.

    You can import videos to a YouTube channel that's connected to a Google+ Page from either the Google+ Page itself, or from any Google+ Profile that manage the Page and channel.

    Other updates on Google+ and YouTube 2014

    Of course there were many more updates on Google+ and YouTube this year.

    More 2014 YouTube updates:

    More 2014 Google+ updates:
    I'm looking forward to see what 2015 brings.