With the recent rollout of their One Channel design, YouTube is aiming to evolve from – in Google's own words – "a video-based site to a channels-based site, where subscriptions rule."
Essentially, YouTube is working to help advertisers better engage their target customer base by encouraging and emphasizing channel subscriptions, allowing advertisers to cultivate a community on YouTube.
In addition, there are plenty of core benefits to the One Channel design, such as the ability to scale the design and branding across different devices and screen sizes, having channels be only one click away for subscribers, and streamlined channel management, wherein updating content for desktop will automatically allow the change to scale across all devices. One Channel's new features also allow for increased opportunities to optimize your video PPC campaigns.
Timeline for Migration
Google's current migration timeline for One Channel allows until mid-May for most users to complete the migration, with a little additional time allotted to advertisers with gadgets or those in the pharmaceutical industry. By June 5, any advertisers who haven't yet migrated will automatically be transitioned to the new design.
So don't wait, the sooner you can test the waters with One Channel, the more time you will have to resolve any issues before you are forced to make the transition.
Top 3 Success Tips
Before getting started, keep in mind the following top tips to set yourself up for maximum success.
1. Optimizing the Basics
To give your channel more prominence and appeal to users of the site, take advantage of the following:
Just like with SEO, having strong channel titles and descriptions will serve to increase the likelihood of your channel being found, both in searches and via YouTube's recommendations. Since only the first 45 characters of your channel description will appear next to your avatar across YouTube, make sure you are concise in summing up what the channel is about, and use calls to action to encourage users to subscribe.
YouTube will now use the channel title as opposed to your user name in searches and recommendations, so ensure you do some searches of your channel name to see how your channel is being presented, and modify as needed.
This serves as your main marketing image on the site, branding you more effectively to your audience. It is also used in search, suggestions and recommendations as well as in comments. Since it can also appear in different sizes based both on where it shows up as well as on screen size, ensure that it is clear in both larger and smaller sizes.
For example, Dior's logo looks great under the video on their watch page:
But the name is lost in the smaller size on the guide on the left side of the screen:
Since the feed is becoming a bigger part of the YouTube experience in the new design, having compelling metadata is incredibly important. For the titles, lead with the core keywords first, and save any branding for the end of the title.
Also since more of the descriptions will be visible for each video moving forward, ensure the descriptions are interesting and the most important parts of the description are used first. Consider adding links to the subscribe page, playlists and channel page in the latter half of the description.
The new design also showcases playlists more prominently to the right of the video being viewed on the watch page, so carefully curate your videos into playlists and share playlist URLs with visitors and subscribers alike.
Featured and Related Channels
On the right hand side of your channel, One Channel gives you the option to list both featured and related channels.
Featured channels show up on the upper right side, and showcase other channels that are selected by you, and you have control over how they appear. YouTube will also serve a subscribe option alongside these featured channels.
Related channels are selected by YouTube algorithms to help users discover other content that likely shares similar themes with your content. The likelihood of this list including competitors is high, since they too will have similar content, so you do have the option to disable related channels from showing up on your page. Related channels show up by default, so you will have to actively select the disable option if you don't wish them to appear.
If you decide not to list any featured channels and disable related channels, the right side of your channel will remain blank and not display any content.
2. Curating Content for Subscribers vs. Non-Subscribers
On YouTube, your channel subscribers are highly engaged viewers who visit your channel often and are very likely to share it with friends. They are also potentially your strongest brand advocates on this platform.
One Channel makes your channel more visible to subscribers; with their new "Guide" being present on every page, your channel is always going to be just a single click away every time. With this new feature, you'll be able to more easily expose your brand messaging to subscribers at regular intervals and create stronger brand enthusiasts.
YouTube's research has shown that subscribers tend to watch twice as much video as non-subscribers, thus having a robust video strategy is important to be able to foster real engagement around your brand as you build your community.
Tips for Engaging Your Subscribers
Put the emphasis on creating compelling content first, and branding later. Just like you would on your social media channels, try to focus 60 percent of your content to entertain your viewers, 30 percent to inspire them and only 10 percent to try to sell your product.
Create playlists not just to showcase your own content, but consider also including the occasional video from other channels if you feel it can provide value.
Stick to a regular schedule for posting videos to keep viewers better engaged and coming back to check for new posts.
Use calls to action creatively within your videos, either as annotations, mentions within the videos or within the descriptions of the videos.
Work on the community management aspect on YouTube as well, responding to comments and asking questions to create a dialogue with the viewers.
Here's what CapitalOne's channel page looks like for subscribers:
One Channel offers two options to help convert visitors into subscribers:
As a channel owner, you have the option to set the default landing page for non-subscribers to be the "browse" tab, which allows you to present a curated view of your channel content to show off your channel in the best possible light. Pick the videos that have seen the best response from viewers to feature on this page, and provide different options that viewers with different motivations could relate to.
Essentially a featured video that auto-plays when unsubscribed viewers reach your "Browse" tab, this video provides you the option to really showcase what your channel is all about. For this, you can choose a video that highlights the value of your channel, a video about any special promotions, or simply choose your best performing video that has proven to engage the audience.
When setting up your trailer it is important to note that:
- You should already have the video you wish to use uploaded to the account and set as public.
- Descriptions longer than 144 characters may get truncated.
- Titles longer than 45 characters may get truncated.
- The video count information in the trailer location might differ from what is seen on the watch page, owing to the different timing of data updates in each location.
Here's their page for non-subscribers, which features the channel trailer on the browse tab:
3. Impact on YouTube Advertising
While the impact for those advertising on YouTube will be minimal, there are some changes to keep in mind.
Destination URLs to Direct to Custom Tab
Before One Channel, the norm was that one had to employ deep-linking or set the Custom Tab as default in order to run media that landed users on the custom experience. Now we have the option to set a unique URL for the Custom Tab, and can use this unique URL as the destination URL for the paid media.
TrueView In-Search Ads
Unless selected otherwise while setting up the ad, video playback for TrueView In-Search ads previously defaulted to the video Watch Page. The new design generates URLs such that, if enabled, playback of these ads can instead happen on the channel page itself.
This added level of control with the destination URLs will help ensure that ads play on the channel page itself, which is recommended for several reasons, including the ability to have calls to action within the banner and better showcase your own related videos. Here the video will play in the space reserved for the Channel trailer that shows to non-subscribers – whether the viewer is a subscriber or not.
Elimination of the Brand Channel's Clickable Channel Banner
The old design allowed for the entire channel banner on brand channels to be clickable to the destination URL of the advertiser's choice. For example:
However, all channels, brand and regular, are being moved to the new One Channel design which does include a banner in their channel art, but only allows for a small section in the lower right corner to be clickable. Example:
Since One Channel scales across multiple devices and screen sizes, Google recommends uploading a single 2120 x 1192 px image that has been optimized to fit the following template:
You can still use this banner art not just for branding, but to also include specific calls to action and feature any special promotions, in order to optimize your advertising spend – since there is no cost for clicks on this banner.
Ensure that your main copy fits into the safe area, and is cohesive with the larger image as a whole. Head & Shoulders does a good job with theirs:
You can still select a Custom Link to an external site to show up as the link on this new channel banner – so take advantage of this feature to encourage visitors to visit a specific landing page or go to your social media sites.
Now that you are better prepared to make the transition, here is a recommended pre-migration checklist to help:
- Timing: Decide when to test the new One Channel design, ideally well before the automatic conversion deadline, keeping in mind any marketing campaign flight dates.
- Design and Branding: Decide if you wish to develop a new channel avatar, create or update your channel and video metadata and create new channel art that fits the larger specs. Additionally, decide if you wish to feature any other channels or wish to have the related videos section enabled or disabled.
- Video Selection: Choose the video you will use as the trailer for non-subscribers, select the videos you want to feature on the browse tab, list out the playlists you will want to create and determine your video upload frequency strategy.
- Community Management: Ensure you have a resource in place to engage with your viewers, both subscribers and non-subscribers, to help build your community and engage your audience.
- Advertising: Ensure all destination URLs are properly updated.
Get started testing the new channel design soon, and give yourself plenty of time to optimize and make changes while you know you have the security of switching back to the previous design while you hone your strategy.
Have additional ideas? Please share in the comments.
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