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Yandex Zen sets its sights on being a YouTube competitor

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Video is big business across the board in the digital world today – from those who provide platforms to host and monetize videos and live streams, to media publishers who are focusing a lot of their content around them.

No wonder, then, that many are trying to get a slice of this lucrative pie that is currently globally overall dominated by Google’s YouTube and by Facebook.

Overall, that is – but not in every market. Predictably, China and Russia have either come up or are coming up with their own solutions in this space. In China, the leader has been ByteDance’s TikTok – a video platform driven by artificial intelligence that has lately been in the news for both its tech and its problematic censorship practices.

And over in Russia, Reuters writes, Yandex is introducing its own video streaming service on the Yandex Zen platform.

The platform itself is an AI-powered personal recommendation service, that feeds content to users by probing their browsing history, location, and other preferences and interests to provide them with more of the same and lock them into a pattern. This is taking the leaf out of the book of other, wildly successful social media platforms who have been doing this for a long time. And, judging by the Reuters report, it’s likely to pay off to the Russian giant as well.

Yandex, who already dominate the Russian search market at the expense of Google, may now be betting that they can do it again, this time by displacing YouTube – that is still in the lead in the video streaming segment. But they will also have to deal with Russia’s Facebook alternative, VK, currently in second place.

The Yandex video service lets bloggers upload videos on Yandex Zen that must be under 15 minutes long, which then get recommended based on established user preferences.

Confirming the trend of the growing popularity and demand for video content, the test run of Yandex’s new product proved to be a success, the report said: Yandex Zen had about 50 million monthly users in August, while the introduction of the new video service saw 11 million daily users and 20 million daily video views.

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