A Review Of Youtube’s Beta Channels

youtube beta channel

It’s been known for a couple of months now that Youtube was slowly launching its Beta channels to the public. When I created the Screencast pro channel last month, I was invited to try out the new Beta channel. I accepted the invitation, and here is what I think of the new channels:

For visitors, I don’t see a big difference. We find the same modules, and those were easy to understand in the old version. The innovation comes from the video player and the playlist in the sidebar: Visitors can watch all videos without refreshing the whole page. Only the video element refreshes. There is also a unique URL string for each event on the page.

youtube beta channel

The huge change is for channel owners. No more do we have to toggle the editing interface and the channel page to make a change and see how it looks. The edits are operable from the channel page, and changes are applied immediately. Also, no more transparent modules which colors were dependent of the background color.

The channel’s tags are editable from the channel page as well. My video content keeps evolving and transforming over the months. Channel’s tags are very important to make your video discoverable, so it is crucial to be constantly reminded that they can be easily updated.

youtube beta channel edit tagst

In terms of look’n’feel, it is a big change, but nothing that will make most Youtube channels more beautiful (it’s like Myspace pages, they let users customize it, and it’s a mess). What changes is the modules’ management system: Now, the modules can be handled almost like widgets on an iGoogle page (hint). When I see Youtube’s Beta channels, I see: a lighter and widgetizable interface, which for me can only mean two things: mobile-compatible channels, and portability-ready through widgets. When you consider their last feature integration, the autoshare function, it is understandable that they now have to make their platform more mobile-ready.

Finally, there is one last addition to those channels that is worth noticing: Our profiles are also editable from the channel page. Before, if you filled in an info about yourself, it would automatically display it on your channel page. I wanted to let Youtube know who I was, but for my professional channels, I didn’t want to say “HyveUp, male’, for example. With the Beta channels, you can fill in all the info you wish, and select which one you want to be displayed on your channel.

youtube beta channel edit profile

Overall, I really like the new channels. Youtube is following the right direction there.

Youtube Adds Autoshare, Pings Twitter, Facebook… And Google Reader?

youtube autoshare google reader

Youtube‘s agility and pertinence keep stunning me. Today, I noticed this when opening the upload page :

Youtube upload autoshare

For starters, Friendfeed just lost one unique feature: Linking Youtube to Twitter.

Also, I can’t help but link this new addition to the Android’s recent release of video uploads to Youtube through the Android app. This means that anyone can upload videos to Youtube while on the go, share it automatically, and receive feedbacks through Twitter. Well, anyone could do this if Twitter offered @myname email alerts: Then it would be easily accessible and widely used.

I love that Facebook is there too! I have a personal Youtube channel, so hooking this channel up to my Facebook stream is going to spare me the effort of sharing the link on Facebook after it’s done uploading.

I think this is a small step for the dev team, but a big one towards networks’ interconnectedness. The thing with video is that you start the upload, and then you have time to write a post about a new autosharing feature before it is done uploading and transcoding. Now, Youtube pings you and your friends (unless you set the video on private) when the video is ready to watch.

To optimize your video visibility on Twitter, write the video title as if it was a tweet to someone. Or use a hashtag to index your video directly in a category. So much to be done !

On the other end, I have yet to see what Google Reader sharing is. I imagine it appears as a shared item in my friends’ feeds, but I don’t see the point of that. My friends don’t accept to follow my content on Google Reader, they accept to follow the content I share. I like this though because it is a little hint on how Google is trying to make people connect around items on the Web (aka build a Google social network): through Google Reader (and iGoogle by extension, I imagine).

A little research on the Web did not pulled back any explanation for Google Reader: ReelSEO
Inside Facebook

Update: The Google Reader autoshare feature places your latest videos in your shared items:

youtube autoshare google reader

Again, I don’t find this really relevant, but maybe it will be when Friendconnect will centralize the social structure around Google products…

How To Set Up Your Youtube Channel For Your Business

youtube binders

youtube binders

UPDATE: This article gets a lot of good karma, but unfortunately, since Youtube launched their new channels, a lot of the tips below are not up-to-date anymore. Thank you for visiting though 🙂

When I started out with Youtube a few years ago, I didn’t really care about the look of my Youtube channel. All I really needed was a tool to upload videos to the Web for free. I would grab the embed code, and insert it in my blog, where I was more concerned about design issues. Today, things have changed. I am more concerned about the look of my channel, as well as how my videos are organized.

Why Care about your Youtube look?

In 2008, a lot of things happened in Youtube. Here are the main changes:

  • Major site re-design
  • Faster cached memories
  • Adsense integration
  • Became 2nd/3rd most popular search engine
  • Integrated annotations and insight
  • Major cleaning of illegal content

All those changes bought Youtube its place as the leader in the UGC video space for the next 5 years to come… At least. This means Youtube is not a rusty Google acquisition anymore. To my opinion, it is the most powerful social media tool online today. Twitter is just a sidekick. Thanks to Youtube’s new skin, you can now consider the video giant as a serious marketing tool for your business.

How to set up your Youtube Channel

If you haven’t created one yet, choose the best name possible for the channel (your business name if possible). Fill out your profile: A lot of info is good for Youtube indexation purposes, but not so good for your visitors. I recommend a metadata philosophy of one sentence that summarizes it all.

Go to the ‘edit channel’ part: The background color should be your company’s brand color. You will want to create a banner to personalize your channel. I recommend creating a banner which background color is the same as my channel background color. What you do not want to do is to create an image that is the size of the homepage, as:

  1. Depending on screen resolutions, visitors will see just half of it, or it will be cut and the background color will mess everything up, and
  2. it’s longer to load. Also, Youtube centers its background image, so work with this in mind.

    The rest of the channel style customization is a work of going back and forth until you find the right style for your page. For the feature video of your homepage, you have to choose between your latest uploaded video, or a specific video. That is really up to you and your strategy: Are you creating videos to lead people to your channel (then set a specific video as the feature vid), or are you just using Youtube as a video host (then set latest video as feature vid).

    Also, in the customization part of the homepage, as a business, I think you shouldn’t care about showing off your friends, subscribers and subscriptions. I recommend taking those boxes away. You’ll save real estate and create more attention around your content.

    youtube playlists

    One of Youtube’s most powerful assets for its users are playlists: As a video producers, as you can see above, I have create different types of videos. Thanks to playlist, which are basically folders for your media, I can organize my content in a way that makes sense for my work, and most importantly, display only the playlists which contain the videos I want to show off. For example, whenever I edit a video interview, there is always a chunk of the interview that is both very interesting and not related to the rest of the video. I render this isolated content, upload it, and share it on my blog. I am not really interested in showing this video on my channel, so I put it in the ‘interview snapshot’ playlist, which doesn’t appear on my channel.

    Another example: I created a video for a client who posted it on his own Youtube channel. Great stuff! I was able to take this video and put it in my ‘professional work’ folder, even though I didn’t upload it to Youtube. Playlists are a much richer way for visitors to understand who you are as a video creator.

    On my channel, I left the favorites box, to show visitors that I am also a user of Youtube, and not just a passive marketer.

    There are two more things that make your channel look better: A high number of channel views, and a high number of video views. For the channel views, I have about 5,000. Believe me, that is good compared to the traffic that Youtube is sending on my channel. The problem I have with my videos is that they are tailored for a niche: Only a fragment of that niche finds my videos, and only a fragment of that fragment follows the trail back to my Youtube channel. In other words, I have a low visit potential to my channel. Even though I this is reality, I do not want others to see it this way, so I inflate the visits on my channel.

    Same with videos: Nobody likes to watch a video that nobody else saw. There are ways to inflate your video views. It really is a cute little hack, nothing too disruptive, but it’s good to know when you want to jump-start views a little.

    I won’t share here how to inflate video views. It is something I reserve for my clients, and I use it in a very moderate way. It’s the same scenario as restaurant managers who ask their employees to sit at the window tables and pretend they are customers to show passers-by that people eat there. It generates trust. Youtube is no fool: This trick only allows you to inflate the views counter, but in no way it cheats Youtube’s popularity algo.

Youtube Makes $1 Million A Year In Paid Clicks

In reply to this morning post on Silicon Alley about Youtube making $500 million in paid search revenue this year, I’ve made my little calculus on Youtube’s potential revenue based on facts instead of educated guesses.

I started running a paid search campaign on Youtube since the first day they launched this service, just to try out its potential.

I bought very generic keywords like shopping, shop, list, and so on for a video of Smartshopit.

Here is the report. I stopped this campaign about two weeks ago because I thought I had seen enough and didn’t feel like losing dimes for peanuts.

So the average CTR is 0.03% and the average CPC is $0.11. Let’s apply those numbers to Youtube total search queries and calculate Youtube’s potential yearly revenue on paid search.

Back in December, Youtube was retrieving SERPs for about 2.5 billion search queries. With an applied CTR of 0.03%, Youtube generated about 750,000 paid clicks. Now let’s multiply that by 0,11, and we get a mind-blowing $82,500 monthly revenue on paid search.

So on a yearly basis, Youtube generates $990,000 on paid search clicks, or let’s give them a million.

That’s quite different from the $500 million prediction, no doubt. This calculus is a gross approximation, but at best you can double or triple this output number if you want to give Youtube a chance.

Anyhoo, just saying that a lot of people’s been calling BS on the Youtube’s revenue predictions, but nobody bothered to show actual numbers. Now it’s done 🙂

There’s Always Been Akamai Behind Youtube

Well that was short! The White House is not using Youtube as its video player by default. It seems that now the videos playing on the White House official site are embedded in a Flash player provided by Akamai.

Everybody wonders if the White House made this shift because of some privacy concerns (Youtube’s cookies), or because the government felt bad to favor one branded video platform over another one.

I think that both reasons above are valid, and a third one would be that Youtube has less broadcasting potential than Akamai. Remember during the Live Youtube event, Google relied on Akamai to support the heavy broadband requirements of the event. In other words, I think that the White House just cut the middle man to work directly with the source. Akamai is just more reliable than Youtube, and less spammy too.

Anyhow, for the Youtube community, nothing changes, as the videos will still be pushed to Youtube as they have been before. However, if Youtube is becoming secondary in the White House online video strategy, then the government online video strategists should consider using Tubemogul to push their content even farther down the long tail!