When I was a kid, I had a toy periscope that let me "see around corners and over walls." These days, I visit The Official YouTube Blog every day to get a quick look at what's happening at the largest worldwide video-sharing community. And last week I saw the future of video marketing.
Now, I could try to hoard this information the way selfish kids try to hoard their "special toys." But I learned a long time ago that it was more fun to share my toy periscope with friends and then get together to spend hours engaged in social conversations about what we had seen.
On July 7, 2011, Noam Lovinsky, Product Manager, invited YouTube users "to play along with us by participating in one of our latest TestTube experiments: Cosmic Panda.”
So, what the heck is Cosmic Panda? Well, if you follow the cosmic critter over the double rainbow, then you'll see what might be become a future design of YouTube that looks different, including channels, playlists, and videos.
For example, I took this experiment for a test drive to see what the SES Conference & Expo channel might look like in the future. A screen shot appears below.
Now, I'm not the only one who has looked at Cosmic Panda. Brenna Ehrlich of Mashable says, "When it comes to channels, the new header is a lot more polished looking." I agree.
With the new version, the header is also a video, but at first glance it appears to just be a graphic. If you click on the graphic, it will bring you to the featured video. Cosmic Panda also rejiggers the setup so all content is found under the tabs "Featured," "Video" and "Community.”
Ehrlich says, "Overall, the whole layout is much cleaner and more professional looking." She's spot on. The new look and feel is stylish.
Now, take a look at the screenshot below to see what the Cosmic Panda revamp does to playlists like SES Toronto 2011 videos.
Eric Smalley, who writes the Digital Media column for CNET News, says the experimental redesign is "slicker, simpler, and darker." Yes, it is. He adds that Cosmic Panda "boosts the old, cluttered, entirely-too-white video portal into the realm of contemporary Web design in many ways." I couldn't have said it better myself.
Finally, check out the screenshot below of what the new design does to "Tips for SEOs and webmasters on how to survive Google's Panda update." (That's Google's Panda, not YouTube's Cosmic Panda. There seem to be a plethora of pandas. I suspect the popularity of Pablo Sandoval, who is nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, has prompted lots of engineers in the Bay Area to code name their pet projects after the San Francisco Giants infielder.)
Emi Kolawole of The Washington Post's Ideas@Innovations blog says, "The interface is more streamlined, fully separating the comment stream and related videos from the one you're watching. Those videos now appear alongside the comments below the main screening area." What can I say? She's right. And when you're right you're right.
Now, normally you can count on someone, somewhere to sound like Commander Leonard "Bones" McCoy, M.D. in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), who said, "And they probably redesigned the whole sickbay, too! I know engineers, they LOVE to change things." And there have been a couple of comments along that line.
But I've been impressed that reaction to Cosmic Panda has generally been positive.
Jeremy Scott of ReelSEO says," I've tried it out, and I must say… it seems pretty cool to me at first glance. The redesign isn't so drastic as to be jarring. A lot of things are still in the same places. But there's definitely been a face-lift, and a healthy dose of the color gray has been liberally added in many shades.”
He adds, "This thing is outstanding in my opinion. Simplified and slick. The red chat-balloon icon on the bottom right lets you toggle the video's annotations on and off, and when captions are present, you'll have another little toggle icon for turning those on and off as well. And as you can see, you can still change the video resolution or jump up to full-screen view with the click of a mouse.”
Giles Turnbull, who writes the Techland column at Time.com, says, "The video player now sits on a dark background, which makes videos themselves pop a little more. It also provides more space for advertising, which sometimes appears to one side of the player, shunting the video across to (the) other side to make room.”
He adds, "Playlists and channel lists have been moved to a bar immediately below the player, where you'll also find the video size widget, which lets you view larger versions or flip to full screen.”
And he concludes, "Cosmic Panda also means more control for channel owners, who will get new page designs and customization options.”
And Liz Shannon Miller of GigaOm interviewed some YouTube Partners to find out "What YouTube creators think about Cosmic Panda." The response from partners was largely positive.
Douglas Sarine of Ask a Ninja said. "Hopefully this will ultimately increase value for advertisers and CPMs for content creators who use YouTube as their main distribution channel.”
Rebecca Lando of Working Class Foodies said, "After looking more in-depth, I really love how simple it is, both from an audience standpoint (finding videos, creating playlists, going from one video to another) and from a creator's standpoint.”
Benny and Rafi Fine of The Fine Brothers said, "This actually is a more streamlined and better version of the old YouTube channel page, where series playlists had their own specific module.”
Tony Valenzuela of Black Box TV said, "It makes the viewing experience much better.”
And Chris McCaleb of Big Fantastic said, "I like that it's streamlined, and allows you to aggregate multiple different shows in a meaningful way on a single channel (which is exciting).”
I also like that you can always jump back to the YouTube experience that you know and love by coming back to the Cosmic Panda page or visiting TestTube. This gives me the feeling that YouTube really wants to hear feedback, and that encourages me to stay engaged throughout these experiments.
So, I think Cosmic Panda gives all of us a quick look at the future of video marketing.
If you are coming to SES San Francisco, please attend the "Next Gen YouTube Marketing” session in the Social Media Track on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011, from 1:30 to 2:30p.m. After the session, we can get together to spend hours engaged in social conversations about what we've seen.
And if you've got an old toy periscope, bring it along. It's fun to be able to "see around corners and over walls.”