On Tuesday Vimeo rolled out a new way to discover content on its service. Dubbed categories, the new system lets users explore content that's automatically been sorted by an algorithm that scans across Vimeo's groups and channels and picks some of the best and most interesting clips.
The system works by having group and channel owners pick just two genres that their videos best fit in. After which, the algorithm goes through and automatically picks a few clips that are sent to the parent category page. The goal is to have this system constantly watching for content across the entire site, and highlighting some of the best or most noteworthy stuff with very little need for human editors.
That's not to say the system can work well without humans, or is being designed to replace user input. A big part of the algorithm is based on videos users are favoring on the service. In a call with CNET News last week, Vimeo's community director Blake Whitman told me that the algorithm does not even count views, something he says can easily be gamed. Whitman and the rest of the team are also hand-picking certain videos to be featured on the new category pages as the algorithm continues to be tweaked.
Along with categories, there are also editor-created subcategories. These are based on trends and can change based on the volume of content within a certain category, and help to further hone down what users want to view outside of titles and tags.
What's interesting about this approach is that in many ways it's taking some of the responsibility off the users who cannot choose a category or add tags to their own clips. Most other video hosts make this a mandatory part of the upload process. Part of the reason for Vimeo's, as it was explained to me, is that it keeps people from adding videos to categories for which they don't belong. With this system, videos are first vetted by group and channel to make sure they're a good fit.
That's also good news for advertisers, which Vimeo can now pitch with very honed, and focused content verticals. On the other side of that, Vimeo users will be more likely to see more integrated ad campaigns, similar to the one Honda did a few months back for one of its vehicles.
Vimeo's next big project is an overhauled analytics dashboard that will give users a high-level overview of how their videos are doing compared to one another, and across the entire service.