YouTube recently changed its layout for channels.
The new layout emphasizes the importance of engaging content and cultivating a community of enthusiasts. It also focuses more on subscribers. With the new layout, brands can create one experience for subscribers to keep them engaged with the brand, and another for non-subscribers to encourage them to subscribe.
YouTube made the new layout available on March 7, 2013, but most brands won’t have to adopt it until mid-June.
In the new layout, YouTube eliminated the customizable background and replaced it with channel art—a photo banner that automatically resizes depending on the browser size and device used. The channel art does not have to be an image—it may also contain an unlimited amount of text with a call to action.
YouTube also eliminated the image-mapping function and replaced it with the ability to add links that show up as icons on your channel art. You can list up to four verified sites, which can vary from a brand’s Facebook page to a website.
For non-subscribers, a brand’s landing page features a channel trailer that automatically begins when a visitor lands on the brand’s channel. The channel trailer takes up prime real estate on the channel homepage, making it an important asset brands can use to give a brief description about their channels, or promote specific campaign videos or engaging content.
YouTube added a guide that lives on the left side of every YouTube page and is composed of every user’s subscribed channels. Through the guide, YouTube made it easier for subscribers to navigate back to a specific channel with just one click. It also optimizes navigation so users are one click away from the YouTube content they care about most.
Curating content with sections
In addition to the channel trailer, YouTube gave brands greater control over how they display content by enabling them to create custom experiences through sections. Sections can contain a playlist, videos or both.
Creating a community through tabs
Instead of users landing on a brand’s channel only to watch videos, YouTube added a tab that enables users to interact with the channel on various levels. The five different tabs on a brand’s YouTube channel are: overview (home), videos, discussion, about and custom. Brands can enable or disable the discussion and custom tabs.
The overview, or home, tab houses the sections and the channel trailer for non-subscribers.
The videos tab displays all of a brand’s video content.
The discussion tab is where YouTube emphasizes the community aspect of the new platform. This tab allows users to comment directly on the channel in addition to specific videos.
The about tab informs visitors about the brand, what the YouTube channel offers, and the brand’s other online platforms. The tab also houses the feature channels list (which is also on the right side of the page).
The custom tab—which has its own unique URL—is the only part of the new design that can be targeted based on IP addresses. Using this IP address targeting capability, the tab is extremely useful for brands that want to create a global YouTube channel where they can target country-specific content.
Note: The custom tab is only available once YouTube verifies your brand.
Why the new layout matters
- YouTube is moving away from being a video-only platform and turning into a dynamic, highly visual environment for users to engage with brands.
- The new features (sections, trailers, etc.) emphasize the importance of rich content to recruit new subscribers.
- YouTube emphasizes the importance of brand channel subscribers and creating and cultivating a community of brand enthusiasts through engaging content. YouTube is no longer a video repository; it’s a true social media platform.
- The new channel layout reflects YouTube’s recognition of the importance of maintaining a consistent experience across multiple devices.