The New Face of YouTube: The Redesign, Annotations and InVideo Programming

The New Face of YouTube: The Redesign, Annotations and InVideo Programming

19th December 2012

Quick editorial note: Today (the publishing date of this post) happens to be Ned’s birthday as well, so be sure to congratulate him in your comment ;).

The different types of media that is being consumed on the Internet has changed largely over the last few years. Increases in broadband penetration and improvements in mobile, 3G (or 4G for many of us now) speeds have lead to a rapidly increasing change in how we consume media online. It is now not irregular to see widespread use of higher quality image formats, more advanced usage of HTML5 and other interactive technologies, not to mention an exponential increase in the usage of video online. These are used to make engaging and interactive experiences to create websites that stand out and offer very different functionalities that we have become used to over the years (the BBC is a great example of this).

BBC homepage

With this in mind, in this post, I’m going to take a detailed look at YouTube:

  • Analysing some of the, quite simply, mind-blowing usage figures;
  • Delving into some of features that you can use to help capitalise upon video marketing;
  • Taking a look into YouTube’s redesign
  • How some to set up some of YouTube’s new features, including Annotations and InVideo Programming

This post will not be covering video optimisation per se, I’ll leave that for another time., but if you are looking for that then I’d certainly advise reading the YouTube Creators Playbook, heading over to ReelSEO or checking some of the great posts that our resident video SEO expert Carla Marshall has written.

YouTube’s Rise to the Top of the Video Sharing

YouTube, that started in 2005 has a large part to play in the consumption of video online, and now the Internet’s most popular video-sharing website. Coupled with this is has a mighty list of additional credentials to back this up, including the fact that YouTube:

  • Is the 2nd biggest natural search engine in the world
  • Is the 3rd most visited site in the world
  • Has 72 hours of video uploaded to it every minute
  • Showed a three-fold increase of mobile traffic in 2011 (now 20% of global visits come from mobile devices)

These simply astounding figures are also backed up via social proof:

  • Over 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter each minute
  • 500 years of YouTube video are watched every day on Facebook

You can see more of these astounding figures over on YouTube or alternatively, if you’re bored through reading these then watch this video including a rundown of YouTube’s from 2012:

Google’s acquisition of YouTube in 2006 propelled it into the stratosphere, and although there has been, and still is tough competition from the likes of Hulu (Microsoft’s video-sharing platform), Netflix (vastly popular video subscription service), and Vimeo (premium video-sharing service) when you talk about online video YouTube is bound to come up.

The amount of video online is now absolutely vast and what’s interesting is that indications from the US show that this is actually a genuine habitual change for individuals. In 2012, users are consuming less media content on TVs, and instead are moving to PCs, laptops and smartphones (mobile) to consume this media online.

Household Device Usage 2004-2012

YouTube’s New Look

So let’s get on to YouTube’s redesign. The difficulty that many users (myself included) have found until now is that YouTube hasn’t actually provided a particular user-friendly platform. In fact, far from it: the filtering and search options were nothing short of frustrating and difficult, leading to the simple process of searching for any video being all but an arduous difficult process. This experience was no easier when trying to search directly from Google itself, a process you think would be fairly streamlined considering they belong to the same company.

New Youtube Homepage

YouTube Guide

Funnily enough, this seems something that YouTube reference in the email I received confirming the new design. They reference the ‘guide’ that they introduced last year, that is shown on the left hand side of the interface (see the picture right) and in their own words they explain: “Today, we’re introducing features that will allow you to see that Guide all over the site. You’ll also find the Guide wherever you watch YouTube, whether it’s on you mobile phone, tablet, game console or connected TV.”

It appears then, that YouTube have recognised the downsides of user experience on their platform, or have they? Below, I’ll take a look into some of YouTube’s new changes exploring the: new layout, video display, new way of browsing videos aiming to establish how we, as SEOs and online marketers, can capitalise upon this immensely popular area of the Internet.

The use of the guide on the left hand side, provides a far more user-friendly experience than the old interface and is clearly directed at increasing ‘browsing time’ by individuals, offering content to be filtered by category. It’s worthwhile considering this experience when viewing on a bigger display, a tablet, or smart TV.

YouTube's New Topics Feature

We can see here that YouTube have made a good effort to enable more content to be available just one click away.

YouTube Subscribe Call-To-Action

There has also been a clear drive towards users subscribing to channels, this makes sense, greater individual retention on the platform also directly serves the wants of brands who have a presence on YouTube (e.g. more video views).

As online marketers the real goal is to get featured in the ‘related channels’ section (pictured right). This could help drive a huge uplift in traffic and deliver engaged users who wish to browse more content similar to their likes.

In my opinion, the changes to the YouTube platform have been done fairly tactfully and I believe it is now much better browsing experience, they’ve also firmly patted themselves on the back too higher retention = greater advertising opportunities.

My only issues at the moment is there are perhaps a little too many subscribe call-to-actions. While I will happily browse videos on YouTube, personally I only subscribe to a few users/channels, most of which are musicians or bands, I’m happy with this and my typical interaction with YouTube is going on it to specifically search for a video, not to spend a long amount of time browsing. I believe that the changes to the platform have set them up well to cater for browsing, but in my case I will need a habitual change to spend longer browsing.

YouTube InVideo Programming

InVideo Programming is a new feature launched by YouTube that allows you to feature certain videos across all videos in your library. In addition to this, you can also use this to better brand a channel, because this is centrally managed through the channel settings, you only need to change this once to update across all videos.

YouTube InVideo Programming

This feature can be used to highlight certain videos, by displaying them over all of your content or to promote your branding by including a brand logo that links to your channel; find out more in Michel Wester’s post on InVideo Programming or on YouTube’s creators blog.

The best example I’ve seen of this in the wild is AnalyticsSEO’s YouTube channel, who have ‘featured’ their channel which includes their brand logo over their videos. You can see YouTube InVideo Programming in action in this interview with me at this years BrightonSEO:

YouTube Annotations

YouTube annotations are a new feature that has been launched allowing Associated Websites (defined by YouTube’s Partner Program) annotations on their videos, which can be used to link direct to your website.

How to link to your website using annotations

The process of linking to your website using annotations is relatively simple:

1. Ensure that you’ve associated your website with your YouTube channel

2. In the video manager area, select ‘edit’ and then select the annotations option (if this is your first time then ensure that you click to ‘enable your account for external annotation links’)

3. Click ‘add annotation’ (select to create a new annotation or use an existing one) and then under ‘link’ add the category Associated Website

YouTube Annotations Associated Website

4. Enter your associated link in the link area and then save

If your require any additional clarification then you can see Google’s instructions on this here.

While YouTube annotations can be powerful ways of connecting your video assets to your website, if utilised correctly can help to influence a potential customers online journey, do use with caution. YouTube have openly said that ‘time watched’ is now a ranking factor for videos, therefore over use of external links can reduce watch time and negatively influence your videos ability to rank well.


I’m a big fan of the redesign (let’s be honest it couldn’t have got any worse) it seems to address some of the usage issues that were plentiful in the old design. What’s more, it also drives ‘YouTube as a platform’ forward and directly seems to meet some of the challenges that online video platforms encounter, including:

  • Driving channel subscriptions
  • Sharing videos with friends
  • Personalising your individual channel, and customising it based on your likes and dislikes
  • Essentially YouTube have rather successfully created an environment where longer form content is more easily consumed and users spend more time

I’ve also got a couple of predictions for what’s next in YouTube’s development of their platform:


In my opinion, it is evident that these changes are another move to thoroughly intertwine the Google+ platform with all of Google Products; such that has been seen with the closer integrated of Gmail and Google+ and the launch of Google Local+. I feel that this is just the first step and there are more changes coming our way for the YouTube platform, as online marketers we’d be prudent to pay attention to these and capitalise on the opportunities as and when they come along.

Video will continue to grow

As the growth of online video continues, there is no doubt that YouTube is going to be a massive area of opportunity for online marketers in the future, in fact; don’t be surprised if 2013 shows an increase in the number of specialist video marketing agencies.

It’d be great to hear your thoughts:

  • What do you think, are you a fan of the redesign?
  • Are you a fan of YouTube as an online video-sharing platform, or do you prefer others? If so, which platforms?
  • As online marketers, what do you see as areas of opportunity for YouTube?


Written By
Ned Poulter is CEO & Founder of Pole Star Digital, a Digital Marketing Consultancy he runs alongside a number of entrepreneurial ventures. He spends his time developing and overseeing digital strategy for a number of well reputed international clients, developing creative approaches to achieving organic search results, increasing inbound traffic,...
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