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YouTube recently announced a redesign that will affect all channels across the platform.  This article will introduce you to the coming changes so that you can plan accordingly and not be caught by surprise when they are rolled out in mid-June.

Why the change?

With this platform redesign, YouTube is emphasizing the importance of curating rich, relevant content in a dynamic, highly visible environment that will encourage new visitor subscriptions.  Subscribers, who currently represent only a tiny fraction of total video viewers, historically have not been a major audience for most hospital marketers.  This growing audience should become much more valuable, as it will receive notification whenever new videos are added, which can help jump-start video views.  Marketers will also be able to directly message subscribers.

Time to act is now

A scan of hospital YouTube channels finds that none had implemented this new design as of early April.  Marketers need not wait until mid-June for their channel conversion.  YouTube has been actively promoting early adoption of its new design; a first to market advantage may still exist within the healthcare provider market.

Dissecting the new design

There are three major changes:

No. 1 – The Channel Trailer

Coined as “One Channel,” the new design provides healthcare marketers with a way to acquire and cultivate important community members by creating unique experiences through a new Channel Trailer video.  When non-subscribers visit your channel’s landing page, they will be presented with a trailer video that plays automatically.  The intent is for marketers to create an overview about the channel or a specific campaign, featuring engaging content to encourage that visitor to convert to a subscriber.  Imagine this trailer as an ad for your channel.  YouTube offers these tips to keep in mind when you’re making your Channel Trailer:
  • Have a clear call to action to subscribe (scripted and annotated in the video, and in the video description as well).
  • Entertain the viewer – when in doubt show what your channel is about, don’t tell.
  • Indicate the types of videos you upload and when you upload them.
  • Think about the video’s context; it will be seen on the channel, potentially after a viewer has already seen at least one of your videos.
  • Know there’s no perfect length, but shorter is better.
The trailer for Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube One Channel follows these tactics and goes one better by using closed captioning throughout the video, making it available to the hearing impaired and also boosting search engine optimization. Jamie Oliver Youtube Channel As the Channel Trailer occupies prime real estate in this new layout, marketers should embrace the opportunity to leverage this prominent video asset.  It is the introduction to your channel – and possibly your brand.  Your channel’s current subscribers will be presented with a featured video in this location instead of the trailer video.

No. 2 – No more customized backgrounds

One of the biggest changes of this new design is the elimination of the customized background that was previously available for both not-for-profit and for-profit organizations.  This change will affect many healthcare marketers, such as Henry Ford Health System, which have leveraged custom backgrounds to create integrated offline and YouTube campaigns.Henry Ford Health SystemThe custom background is being replaced with “Channel Art,” a photo banner that will automatically resize to any size screen, whatever the device and browser being used.  (Again see the Channel Art area on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube One Channel for illustrative purposes.)  The optimum size for this artwork is 2120-by-1192 pixels, which will accommodate the high definition Retina display found on Apple’s newer iPads and iPhones.  You should also remember that YouTube is available on many new smart TVs, which will display your channel artwork at its full size.  Within your artwork design, it is important to pay attention to the center area of 1280-by-350 pixels.  This space is a consistent “logo safe” image area across all platforms and should be the focal point in your design. Channel art                You can download a template for the channel artwork at Organizations previously could design their entire photo banner or sections of it in such a way that, when clicked, would bring the user to a targeted destination such as the brand’s main website, a service line landing page, a physician finder, or the contact page.  This process, technically called “image mapping,” has been replaced.  Instead, YouTube will allow marketers to add links to up to four verified social media sites, such as the brand’s Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or Instagram account.  These links will appear as icons on the bottom right edge of the Channel Art.  A link to the brand’s website will appear to the left of these social channels. This new design gives marketers more flexibility over how their video content is displayed on their channel. That is accomplished by using sections to create a custom experience containing individual videos, playlists, or a combination of both.

No. 3 – Tabs

Borrowing from Facebook, YouTube has now added tabs to the brand’s channel.  With this addition, YouTube is moving away from being simply a video broadcaster to becoming more like a social media platform.  Tabs will allow users to interact with the channel as part of a community and in various levels. There are five different tabs available on the channel:
  • The Home tab is the main page channel view, where non-subscribers will see the trailer video.
  • The Videos tab is the repository for all of the channel’s video.
  • A Discussion tab allows users to comment on the channel itself as well as specific videos.  This tab can be disabled by the brand.
  • An About tab 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 the About tab in addition to its right rail appearance.
  • The Custom tab is only available 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.  That allows marketers to create country-specific content within their global channel.

Measuring success

An easy calculation to help determine the success of your subscriber acquisition efforts is to compare the ratio of new channel subscribers with video views of your Trailer video.  If this ratio is low, then you may need to rethink and recut your video to have 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.  You will also want to see how visitors are finding your video.  Key discovery events, now available openly for all videos, will provide this insight.  If you take a look at the insights for the Trailer video on Jamie Oliver’s channel (available at you see the instances of first views and referrals from organic search, cross distribution, and paid search as well as views from a mobile device.  From this data, it appears that this video has been properly optimized for SEO and has a very positive viewership trend. While healthcare marketers may be dismayed about losing their customized background, the new design layout 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. This article first appeared  in the May 2013 issue of eHealthcare Strategy and Trends (