ADOTAS — Millions of brands of all sizes have created YouTube channels to promote their products, display their corporate culture, educate their market, and more. This month, all of these brands will be forced to adopt YouTube’s recently announced redesign — named One Channel — created to underscore the value of rich, curated content in a highly visible and dynamic environment built to spur new visitor subscriptions. While some brands, like Nike, Progressive, and Harvard, have already made the transition to the new layout (which became available in March), most, like Reebok, Allstate, and Columbia University, have stuck with the old platform. To avoid any last-minute hassles or surprises, marketers must become educated about the three pivotal changes and how they will affect the future of their brands.
Change 1: The Elimination of Customized Backgrounds
One of the major changes of the redesign is the replacement of the customized background with “Channel Art”— a photo banner that will automatically resize to any screen regardless of device or browser being used. Marketers who have leveraged custom backgrounds to create integrated offline and YouTube campaigns should be especially wary of this change.
For starters, marketers should take note that the optimum size for the photo banner is 2120 by 1192 pixels, which will accommodate the high definition retina display found on Apple’s newer iPads and iPhones. They should also remember that YouTube is available on many new smart TVs, which will display channel artwork at its full size. Within artwork design, marketers should pay special attention to the center area of 1280 by 350 pixels — a consistent “logo safe” image area across all platforms that should be the focal point in a brand’s design.
Additionally, brands will be able to add links to as many as four verified social media sites to the Channel Art. These links, which can bring viewers to brands’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+ accounts, will appear as icons on the bottom right edge of the Channel Art.
By using sections to create a custom experience containing individual videos, playlists, or a combination of both, this new design will offer marketers more flexibility over how video content is displayed on their channel.
Change 2: The Addition of Tabs
Similar to Facebook, YouTube has also added tabs to brands’ channels, which will enable users to interact as part of a community and in various levels. There are five different tabs available on the channel that marketers should be aware of:
- Home: Main page channel view, where nonsubscribers will see the trailer video.
- Videos: Repository for all of the channel’s videos.
- Discussion: Allows users to comment on the channel itself as well as specific videos on the channel. This tab can be disabled by the brand.
- About: Gives visitors information about the brand, what they can expect from the channel, and details about the brand’s other digital channels. The Related Channels list will be cross-distributed to this tab.
- Custom: Available only to channels that have gone through YouTube’s formal verification process via a YouTube advertising representative. Once enabled, it will create a destination that can be targeted based on global IP addresses, allowing marketers to create country-specific content within their global channel.
With this addition, we begin to see YouTube expanding beyond its position as a video broadcaster and into a social media platform.
Change 3: The Development of the Channel Trailer
A final major change of the new design is that it provides a new Channel Trailer video, designed to help marketers acquire and cultivate important community members by introducing them to the brand. Marketers can leverage the trailer video tool to provide nonsubscribers with an overview of the channel or specific campaign. When these nonsubscribers visit the brand’s landing page, they will be presented with this trailer video that will automatically play. You can optimize the effectiveness of your Channel Trailer video by:
- Clearly articulating why a viewer should subscribe.
- Entertaining the viewer –show what your channel is about, rather than tell.
- Considering the video’s context – it will be seen on the channel potentially after a viewer has already seen at least one of your videos.
- Indicating the types of videos you upload and when you upload them.
- Keeping the video short and sweet.
Since the Channel Trailer occupies prime real estate in this new layout, marketers should embrace the opportunity to leverage this feature.
Measuring the Success of the Redesigned Channel
In order to see whether a brand is successfully utilizing the new YouTube features, marketers can measure their subscriber acquisition efforts by comparing the ratio of new channel subscribers with video views of the Channel Trailer video. If this ratio is low, then marketers may need to rethink and recut their video to tell a more compelling message, especially within the first 12 seconds, which is typically when viewers will determine if they will continue to watch or go elsewhere. Marketers will also want to see how visitors are finding their video. Key discovery events, now available openly for all videos, will provide this insight.
While marketers may be sorry to say goodbye to the old YouTube layout—and particularly the customized background — the new design reflects how visitors are actually consuming content on YouTube now — from desktops to mobile devices to TVs. The One Channel design will provide a consistent experience with the brand across all platforms.