YouTube’s Improved Design: What it Means for Performance Marketers11 min read


YouTube Design Changes Improve the Video Content Experience

YouTube has changed a lot since its inception in 2005, and recent changes reflect YouTube’s increasing move towards showcasing high-quality video. The preeminent online video platform is also incorporating simplicity-focused Material Design cues rolling out across all Google/Alphabet products this year.

New Logo

Perhaps the first noticeable change is the iconic YouTube Logo, with a new font and a new focus on that familiar “play” button iconography.New YouTube Logo

Brilliant Full-Frame Video

But logo’s change all the time, with little impact on actual platforms. Beneath the aesthetic, there are some real changes that will affect YouTube marketers.

Brilliant Full Frame Video - Old

Brilliant Full Frame Video - New

The unmistakable modification you’ll notice as soon as you go to view a video, is the move to defaulting to full-frame video display. This is an upgrade from the old “Theater Mode”.  We have to say, we love this change, taking away all distractions and allowing the video to command the entire frame. After all, we’re on YouTube to watch videos. We don’t want to be distracted with sidebars and descriptions until after we get what we came for. This is also great for TrueView marketers, reducing distractions and holding your viewers in the stay or skip choice point for your ads will increase engagement as well as skips for uninterested audiences. The full frame viewer also brilliantly delivers quality HD video. Good news for marketers with compelling visual content, and a raise of the bar for everyone in the YouTube universe.  Notice the companion banner moves from the top right, beside the video and ad, to the right below the full frame and remains there for the length of the video.

YouTube Companion Banner - New Location

Pro Tip: Make sure to capitalize on this resource with visually engaging banner ads in the same 300x60 pixel format.

Dark Theme

The long-rumored Dark Theme has finally arrived on desktop (without hacking) which has been rumored since spring.  This setting switches the interface background and text from a white motif to a black one, reflecting the trend of protecting the user from blue light while watching screens at night.

This aligns with YouTube’s moves to become a bonafide source of longer-form entertainment media and moving in on the Netflix and Chill market with its own YouTube original programming rolling out this year and next year. Activating dark mode takes 5 seconds. Click your account icon in the top right corner and you’ll see the Dark Theme menu item. Click it, and then switch the position from off to on.

Activate YouTube's Dark Theme

If you’re logged in, just click the gear to see the Dark Theme Menu item appear.

Mobile Material

The YouTube mobile app gets a freshening up with this new style roll out, adopting Material Design elements and generally getting cleaner and simpler.

Most noticeably, the home to the new logo switches from a red header bar to white and video cards are flattened as they remove all drop shadows. Changes are subtle but in-line with this new design aesthetic.

Video Cards Flattened & Removed Drop Shadows

Less subtle is the added support for vertical video viewing (like that shot from an iPhone when held normally) without the annoying black sidebars.

YouTube Mobile Full Screen Vertical View

This is a much-needed shift, adapting to user behavior rather than forcing compliance. Cinematic display ratios are great for the theater, but selfies aren’t shot on film, and low-res content is a huge portion of the YouTube content library.

Speed Freaks

A final notable addition to mobile is a playback speed addition. A staple for podcast monsters that consume 3-hour Joe Rogan shows on a daily basis, this feature allows for accelerated (or decelerated viewing of any video on mobile.

Change Playback Speed on YouTube Mobile

The Takeaway

In all, these changes are not surprising, and a welcome upgrade to the beloved video platform that is prioritizing improving video content delivery and gradually becoming a full-fledged entertainment hub.

Performance marketers should take note of YouTube’s focus on quality and strive to produce video ads with this in mind. If you want to learn to leverage YouTube to drive performance for your company, read our blog about how to set up The Perfect YouTube Campaign. The platform will continue to support lower-res, direct, conversational videos and ads, but the possibilities are expanding for the visual and emotional experience we can convey through our videos. After all the medium is the message. 

What message are you conveying through YouTube?


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