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YouTube’s New Design: What Marketers Need to Know

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Earlier this year, YouTube announced a new design – first released in limited beta – that aims to promote increased regular visits to YouTube from any connected device. While the design is already available, the deadline for all channels to make changes is May 15, and for channels with gadgets, June 19.

The new design encourages users to subscribe to individual channels and to then return to a brand’s channel to view videos. Subscribers will instantly be notified and be given unlimited access to any new content on the page. Ultimately, the new layout changes will enable marketers to create channels that develop communities of brand enthusiasts.

What’s New with YouTube

  1. The new Guide functionality will now be integrated into Channel pages, granting subscribers access to a brand’s full Channel (not just the feed) whenever they click on the Channel in their Guide. Because the new Guide will be found on every page in YouTube, subscribers will instantly be notified when there is new content on your brand’s Channel.
  2. Channel art will now be featured at the top of your brand’s Channel. This cover image will help solidify brand identity as is the case with other social platforms that feature cover photos, and will include links that direct visitors to Facebook, Twitter and other destinations. Channel art will be compatible on all devices (web, mobile, tablets, etc.). Backgrounds will no longer be a customizable feature as more emphasis will be put on the Channel art at the top of the page.
  3. Featured channels will allow your brand to prioritize and customize what other channels you would like subscribers to see. Similar to this, shelves of content will allow brands to customize videos and playlists that they would like to be promoted when a subscriber views their Channel.
  4. A customized welcome will allow for  brands to greet  non-subscribers and subscribers differently. With this new feature, non-subscribers can be hailed with a “welcome video trailer,” giving them a reason as to why they should subscribe to the Channel.
  5. Flexible width allows the content on your page to automatically adjust and resize based on browser width.

What This Means for Marketers

  1. Better Visual Branding – More focus will be centered on cover art as it will help to solidify brand identity and will be viewable on all devices. Cover photos a brand uses on social platforms like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter can now be reformatted and used on YouTube as well. While brand dependent, to increase efficiencies, brands could resize pre-existing cover photos from other platforms to fit YouTube specs.
  2. Stronger Brand Connectivity – Linked cover photos will provide a huge benefit for brands as they easily connect a Channel to a brand’s website and other social communities (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Featured channels are an added value that will allow multi-entity brands to feature child-channels.
  3. Control of Content Dissemination – Shelves will give marketers control to deliver the content that they want subscribers to see in their Channel. If a brand focuses on certain products throughout the year, they will have the opportunity to feature specific product content at the most profitable times. This feature gives brands the freedom to promote content of their choosing and to attract more attention to it—which could potentially allow for even “low-view” videos to gain traction.
  4. A Customized Welcome – Brands now have the option to utilize a Channel video trailer to welcome non-subscribed viewers and to encourage them to subscribe to their page. This feature could be an added value if your brand creates a video that engages viewers and incentivizes them to become subscribers of your Channel.
  5. Easier Channel Access – By placing the Guide functionality on every page (including channel pages), YouTube is providing subscribers better and more direct access to your brand’s Channel from any page on YouTube. This means that your subscribers will immediately be notified of anything new.

Your Channel’s Checklist for the New Migration

  • Channel Art – Think of it as a cover photo. It should be 2120px by 1192px and be based on these guidelines.
  • Channel Icon (Avatar) – The icon should be a square image rendered at 98px by 98px. YouTube recommends uploading an 800px by 800px image in JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG format. More details can be found here.
  • List of Social Network Links – These are links to other social communities (e.g. Facebook, G+, Twitter, etc.) that you would like featured.
  • List of Featured Channels – This section can be used as a resource to link to any related and partner channels with which a brand may be associated.
  • List of “Shelf Content” – Choose content that you would like your users to see first. Many brands promote certain products/shows throughout the year; this section can be used as a way to garner specific content more attention. Essentially, current categorized playlists can be used in this section.
  • Trailer Video (optional) – We recommend using this feature to convey what your Channel is about or using an existing video that highlights why your Channel is unique. Brands can leverage this section for any noteworthy videos they may have, or if they are running a timely promotion.

YouTube’s latest facelift goes beyond aesthetic changes, as it places more emphasis on subscribers and improving the Channel experience. The new look will benefit brands, as they will now be able to provide a more branded experience and select what content is promoted to viewers  via content shelves and featured channels. By ensuring a brand’s Channel is always just “one-click-away,” YouTube is providing easier and more direct access for viewers to watch brand videos, pushing for more subscriptions in hopes of ultimately creating longer viewer sessions across all devices.

Cover photo via TheVerge.com