Brand channels allow marketers to create what YouTube calls a “bespoke interface,” customizing the look and feel of their YouTube presence by creating a true destination page. What that means is that you get to replace your standard, boring YouTube channel with a big, no-holds-barred, anything-you-want extravaganza.
Branded channels are a perk exclusively for YouTube advertisers. Big, spendy advertisers (more on that at the end of the article). Small-timers need not apply. In effect, what you get is a giant, customizable page on YouTube as a bonus for becoming one of their sponsorship partners. You not only get a few gimmicky whistles and bells, but also the right to use YouTube as part of a major advertising campaign, something normally prohibited by the site’s terms of service. If you want to slap the YouTube icon in your ad materials, you need permission, and that permission costs money. Also, branded channels can run official contests sanctioned by YouTube.
Users of branded YouTube channels enjoy enhanced metrics and tracking of viewer behaviors. The “Hot Spot” feature tells you which parts of your videos are hot and which are cold by looking at bounce- and rewind rates. At any point in any video, you can see if more or less viewers are dropping off than average. You can also examine an interactive graphical trend line as well as a heat map of where your video views are coming from. Google Analytics can be integrated for even more in-depth reporting and analysis. Third-party tracking tools can also be employed.
STANDARD YOUTUBE CHANNEL
The Financial Brand’s YouTube channel utilizes the basic features free with any user account.
Branded YouTube channels deliver more design options and increased functionality. Among the many additional features:
- Video Page Banner – a small banner displayed above the info box on all your video pages
- Video Page Icon – a logo or icon displayed below your username in the info box on all your video pages
- Channel Banner – a large banner displayed at the top of your Channel page
- Channel Banner Link (optional) – a link redirecting users who click on your Channel Banner Graphic to an external site
- Mobile Channel Banner – a mobile banner displayed at the top of your Channel page for smartphone users
- Channel Side Column Image – an image displayed in the left column around the “Connect with…” box
- Other Channel Links – list up to 16 destination channels in the order you would like them to be shown in your channel.
YouTube’s branded channels also feature Gadgets, small web applications or rich media ads that can sit on a customized page, offering deeper functionality for users. Google provides full-time technical support for those building or maintaining their own API Gadgets.
Brand channels can live on any website, in addition to YouTube. Simply by copying one line of HTML, the basic brand channel functionality can be integrated into a website. The full gadget functionality can also be embedded easily into third-party sites and ad units.
Coolness Like This Doesn’t Come Cheap
If you want to create a Brand Channel prepare be prepared to pay. While the branded YouTube channel itself is “free,” it isn’t available to just anyone. And it isn’t cheap. Far from it. To qualify for your “free” branded channel, you must agree to spend no less than $50,000 on advertising over a three month period, a minimum of half allocated specifically to YouTube. You can put the rest towards regular display ads and Google AdWords if you choose. Many advertisers top $100,000-$250,000 with their branded YouTube ad packages.
To get started with a branded YouTube channel, you first have to fill out this “application” form, where (among other things) you must specify your planned advertising budget for YouTube. Once you submit your form, you can expect a reply from a Google sales rep in no more than 3-5 days.
From there, you can scan Google’s exhaustive 17,000-word how-to manual with thorough instructions on customizing branded YouTube channels.
Then all you have to do is figure out how to drive traffic.