Last week I reached out to our friend Greg Jarboe, author of YouTube and Video Marketing An Hour A Day, for an update on his latest tips and best practices for businesses looking to get the most out of their YouTube channel, whether it's a regular user YouTube user channel, a YouTube partner channel, or a YouTube brand channel.
An Overview And Comparison of YouTube Channels
For a good primer on YouTube channels, I suggest reading our earlier post on ReelSEO from Richard van den Boogard, YouTube Brand Channels – The Missing Link. Here's a summary of YouTube's channel types:
YouTube User Channels – basic free account, available to everyone.
YouTube Partner channels – Only available to those accepted as a YouTube Partner. The key differences between user and brand/partner channels lies in a combination of design and functional advantages. There are two main benefits to having a partner channel. 1) You get to share in the revenue from advertising on your video (including enabling different types of ads – pre-rolls, mid-rolls, and overlays); and 2) you receive some design and feature upgrades, including: home page autoplay, a channel banner, a watch page banner, an autoplay feature video, and an unlimited file size for your background image. The requirement is you must be first invited into the YouTube Partner Program or accepted upon application, which you can read more about in the YouTube Partner program requirements. Greg says that there are about 15,000 YouTube partners now, so that likely means that there's at least 15,000 companies that are turning YouTube into a business for themselves.
YouTube Brand channels – Most often this is provided to brands that commit to a certain level media spend with YouTube. The key difference between a brand channel and a partner channel is that with a brand channel, the brand channel owner/advertiser controls who can and cannot advertise around its video content. With a brand channel, you get additional design and functional advantages beyond a partner channel, including custom channel gadgets. Advertisers can work with YouTube to create standard, customized or even contest-driven brand channels. For some good examples, check out YouTube's most popular brand channels.
*New Partner Channel Benefit – More "Featured Videos”
Greg says that he's seen far more of the videos on YouTube's partner channels for his different clients turn up as featured videos.
"That's something you don't get from being a regular user channel." He says. "Featured videos are not paid-for, in-stint advertising. But if you get your featured displayed off in the right—when someone has conducted a YouTube search, it drives traffic just as effectively as anything else does. That's one more benefit now with being a partner channel.”
A YouTube Channel Tip for All – Subscription Widget
I asked Greg to first share one of the more recent developments he's seen with YouTube channels that he thinks businesses should really taking advantage of. Hey says that the most recent channel changes aren't to the design so much as they are to the ways that YouTube has made it easier for people to subscribe to any channel.
Near the end of October (2010), YouTube also announced a subscription widget, which allows you to put a subscription button on your website or blog. It used to be that you had to go to YouTube to "subscribe to the channel," but with this new widget, you can add the subscription widget to your blog or website. Having more places to capture audiences builds in the sustainable advantage of your video efforts.
"The reason subscriptions are important will be obvious to anybody whose got a publishing background selling content; or is trained to monetize content." Says Greg. "Selling content on a one-off basis is always an expensive proposition; but with YouTube you've got an audience who'll say, "I want to get this regularly." That certainly improves your ability to monetize things week in and week out (with your video).”
Easier Channel Subscription = Easier (and Higher) Monetization
"YouTube overall, right across all of its channels, has more than 1 billion subscribers. They have over 19 channels with more than a million subscribers each. So (those channels) are in a much stronger position to monetize what they're doing. They're not trying so much now to create the one-hit wonder and hope that, you know, next year they can come back with something else that's good. They can really focus on just creating a (video) series.” says Greg.
Again, what it means is that you don't just get lucky and then scratch your head and try to figure out what you come up with next. You've got a built-in audience who is waiting to see your next video.
YouTube's Individual Video Partnership Program
YouTube has actually made some exceptions for SMBs and individuals to receive their special brand channel features, some of them comparable to what you'd see on a much, much more expensive brand channel. In August of 2009, YouTube decided to create a new, invite-only program specific to popular individual videos. It's called the Individual Video Partnership program (IVP).
Here are some examples of YouTube videos accepted into the IVP program:
Greg says that what YouTube's IVP program basically acknowledges is that every now and then somebody has a one off hit.
"Otters Holding Hands is charming and adorable, and there's these two otters holding hands going around a pool, and they're cute. But, you know, you're not going to get the otters to do this again tomorrow. You know what I mean? Nevertheless, what it does have is millions and millions of views. With large amounts of traffic comes the invite by YouTube of monetizing that traffic; and there comes some of the benefits that are like being a partner. So there's a way for all users to do it, and that is, you need a hit on your hands before you get the invitation.”
Again, it's important to remember that while some user channels may be invited by Google into its IVP program (and have a shared revenue opportunity with those high-traffic videos), it's only specific to individual videos, not channel-wide. Nonetheless, it sometimes allows for user channels featuring those popular individual videos to receive some design and feature upgrades. Assuming that the IVP program also counts as an official "commercial relationship" with Google, IVP members should be able to have their individually selected videos also appear in YouTube's Featured Videos section.
Here's an instructional video on how people get accepted into YouTube's IVP program.
Tips for Getting into YouTube's Partnership Program
The key to gaining partnership channel status is by having regularly updated videos with consistent traffic, engaging content, and ideally with decent technical quality. Here are some of my own suggestions for graduating from regular user channel status to partner status on YouTube:
- Do real-time video marketing. At least occasionally, put out a video that's very timely with what's very popular or any other breaking news. Even if they may not be something that's directly related to getting leads from your target market, the important thing you want to show is an ability to bring in traffic to your channel.
- Do some advertising. If you have some a video or videos that you think could get a big push in traffic on YouTube with just a little help, consider an advertising solution: YouTube's Promoted Videos Program.
- Stay legal! Stay up-to-date with, and follow, YouTube's Legal policies and community guidelines. (Getting even one red flag may hurt your chances later of being invited as a partner.)
About Greg Jarboe
Greg Jarboe, is the Co-Founder of SEO-PR and author of YouTube Video Marketing An Hour A Day. Along with managing a number of YouTube brand channels and partner channels for his clients, he's also a regular presenter at the Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo series on YouTube marketing and SEO. Greg and I shared a panel at SES Chicago on Video SEO. You can watch our video interview with Greg from an earlier SES conference, where he shares more about why businesses would be remiss not to leverage the power of YouTube. I also recommend listening to his podcast interview on DishyMix.