If you missed the “Timed Comments” experiment that started last year, it basically allowed you to add and view comments for specific moments in videos, which YouTube is now saying was very well received and fostered a sense of community for the very limited amount of channels and videos that had them enabled. The positive feedback prompted them to want to test out similar features, thus the new feature called “Timed Reactions.”
In the new “Timed Reactions” experiment, viewers will be able to react in the moment to what is happening in the video and also see the moments that others are reacting to. For the time being, the reactions being tested are in the form of multiple sets of emojis, which will be tweaked based on how they are used. The way the feature works is best explained in the video below from the Creator Insider channel:
If you’re watching a video that is part of this experiment, you can react and see crowd reactions by opening the comment section of the video and tapping into the reaction panel. The test will also show you which moments other viewers are reacting to (which will be anonymized – we won’t show who sent each reaction). We’re testing multiple sets of reactions and will add or remove reactions based on how the experiment goes!Source: YouTube Help Forum
It is important to note that the feature will not impact performance or recommendations during the experiment. Also, the goal is to eventually integrate reactions into YouTube analytics in the future. The feature can only be seen right now on the YouTube mobile app, and for the channels chosen to participate, the feature should show up for VODs (Video on Demand). Creators can also opt out of the experiment if so they choose.
I have yet to see this feature show up for any of the channels I follow, so I can’t really form an opinion yet on whether I like this or not. As a content creator though, I can see this being very good for engagement and community. In a way, it feels like it’s making up for removing the Dislike count on videos – a move that saw very polarizing reactions. We’ll have to wait and see what the public’s reaction will be and whether YouTube decides to roll out this feature more widely.