YouTube's One Channel redesign rolls out today, with all channels automatically migrated to the new layout. This update replaces the previous background graphic with a responsive banner image that resizes to fit any screen, allowing brands to keep the same look and feel on all viewing platforms. The new design also gives brands the ability to embed social media links in the banner, build a customized video trailer to encourage new subscribers, and offers more control to steer visitors toward selected videos with new curated content lists.
The One Channel design has been in open beta since March, giving YouTube's one-million-plus partners three months to familiarize themselves with it. "We knew this was coming and redesigned our channel header," says Steve Zimmerman of ThinkGeek, an online retailer of novelty products. "We see YouTube as a key part of our business strategy." According to YouTube, optimized One Channel pages have driven a 20% increase of page views.
Here's a look at three branding benefits of the new layout and how you can optimize your channel:
1. Create a trailer to reel in new visitors.
To encourage new channel subscribers, brands can now create a video trailer to showcase their company. The trailer sits at the top of the channel page and runs for about 30 seconds. It can be programmed to play exclusively for new viewers to encourage them to hit that red subscribe button.
Tech startup Ting, a wireless service provider that formed in 2012, has been quick to take advantage of it. "It was simple to create a trailer. This feature let us repurpose content we already had," says Andrew Moore-Crispin, content development manager at Tucows, Ting's parent company. Ting's trailer combines clips from some of their how-to videos, unpacking how its products work and showcasing their logo graphics. Companies can easily build trailers using their existing library of YouTube videos by selecting a few and "clipping" them together within YouTube's free video-editing suite. "It's interesting to be able to present a new view on our YouTube channel, and a chance for us to say what our brand story is about," says Moore-Crispin.
2. Design a new banner for consistency across platforms.
The new banner feature allows for a cohesive brand look on mobile, TV and desktop. YouTube spokesman Matt McLernon says even established companies such as Walmart are investing in and updating their YouTube channels after the redesign to keep their branding unified. To enable consistency, a header graphic must be created that is optimally 2560 x 1440 pixels, and it will automatically adjust to fit different screen sizes. This is an important benefit for many small-business owners who are seeing a growing number of customers visit their websites on mobile devices.
"It took about a week for us to get the new assets," says Moore-Crispin. "The channel banner needed to be more flexible, as it'll be seen on everything from a cellphone to a colossal HDTV." He followed the example of other channels that successfully made the switch, including Vice and Young Hollywood. What's more, the new design enables businesses to include social media and merchandise links that are also available on any device with a browser.
3. Create customized playlists to connect with followers.
YouTube now offers three types of curated playlists: related channels, interest lists and content playlists of your videos. The featured lists offer brands more control and the ability to select and arrange the content they want to highlight to channel visitors. "Grouping together interest lists such as Star Wars and Doctor Who for our fans is great and will hopefully optimize specific categories for us," says Zimmerman. "We can also highlight our older videos."
Using the channel lists function to showcase video footage from other YouTube channels can help reinforce a brand message and connect users to content they'll enjoy. Alternately, a business may use the feature to call attention to additional channels that it manages. For example, Intel uses the channel list to highlight its foreign language YouTube channels.
To date, ThinkGeek's video content has been viewed more than 77 million times, and Zimmerman hopes the new lists will create an immersive experience for visitors and increase time spent on the ThinkGeek channel. While he is confident the updates will help boost engagement, he says they haven't yet seen a significant change.