Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Sophia Scleparis, Head of Audience Development (interim) at Rightster. Rightster manages and operates a major digital distribution, marketing and monetization network that connects global media rights owners, publishers and marketers.

A fundamental shift is occurring in the way consumers find and engage with content on YouTube, with big implications for how brands and content owners should use the platform to build audience and grow revenue.

This shift can be summed up in three words: Subscriptions, Channels, Multi-platform.

Gone are the days when YouTube was simply a place for consumers to watch videos of skateboarding dogs and sneezing babies (although there’s still plenty of that on there…), with user behaviour typified by ad-hoc one-off views. The platform is increasingly becoming more optimised to drive subscription behaviour, with engaged communities built around premium content channels.

We’re witnessing these changes first-hand in our Multi-channel Network on YouTube (now more than 460 channels). The ratio of subscribers to views has increased by 635% in the last 12 months (a key measure of how well a channel converts ad-hoc views into subscription). Monthly subscriber additions have increased by more than x10 times in the same period, with more than 230,000 subscribers a month being added across Rightster’s network.

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According to our sources at YouTube, subscribers spend twice as long on the platform, have longer viewer sessions and come back more often, watching more content. So they are a key part of YouTube’s future. YouTube also has ambitions in paid subscription with its recent announcement of paid channels in the USA.

Viewing behaviour is also rapidly moving towards multi-device consumption. Across our network, 40% of views now take place on a mobile or tablet device, a 54% increase year on year.

As a result of these trends, YouTube is making major changes to the platform to drive subscriptions and provide a better multi-device viewing experience, one of which is the launch of the new One Channel design, intended to provide a consistent user experience across devices (reflecting the huge shift to mobile traffic) and optimised to encourage channel subscription.

YouTube is forcing the switch across all channels on June 5th, meaning from that date all channels will have the new look & feel. The standardization of channels is just part of YouTube’s ambitions to become a “lean back” destination, whether on mobile, desktop or on the harder to navigate connected TV.

How to optimise the YouTube One Channel design

The YouTube playbook is a great reference for some basic techniques to implement on your channel such as video SEO, annotations etc. However, we work with clients to go beyond the basic techniques, helping them fully optimise their content to better drive subscription & engagement.

Here are our top four recommendations for really making your content work on YouTube:

1. Create a really engaging channel trailer

As YouTube focuses more and more on creating communities and integration with Google+,  it’s important that you create a video that tells people what your channel is about and what your community can expect – i.e. why they should subscribe!

One major difference with the new One Channel design is that there is a different view for subscribers versus those who haven’t yet joined. Unsubscribed users are presented with a channel trailer. This should tell them what the channel is about, showcases your best content and encourages people to subscribe.

Some great and varied examples from Rightster’s YouTube network are:

  • What Digital Camera - who took the time to tell viewers about their heritage as a magazine as well as what they post to their YouTube channel.
  • Ora.TV - a hub channel that showcase all their other channels in their video.
  • sntv - they draw you into what they are about – the heart of sports news.

2. Use bespoke graphics

As more videos are now visible on the new One Channel design, it’s even more important to attract users to your ‘hero’ content. A great way to do this is to create graphical overlays on your thumbnails. Newsbreaker use some great graphics to showcase the topic of the video.

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You can also use animated end-slates to draw people into watching more relevant content. Here are some examples: BarcroftThe GuardianPress AssociationLove Football Italia and What Digital Camera.

3. Crowdsource video content suggestions from your community

The best way to create and keep a loyal subscriber base is to create content that your viewers and fans want and are asking for. By responding to comments or even asking for suggestions you can’t go wrong making a video based on the feedback!

This is a technique used extensively on the Love Football channels in our network, for example this Love Football Italia video was created in response to the request that a “Fredy Guarin vs Arturo Vidal” video was created. (Unfortunately this video is not viewable in Italy).

4. Fast editing to capitalize on breaking news and search trends

Rightster manages many sports and news clients in our network, such as the Press Association, sntv and the Guardian. One important technique for this type of channel is to react to breaking news and search volume surges by rapidly tailoring content to capitalise on the news cycle.  For example by rapidly tailoring and editing a clip into smaller parts, you can capitalize on individual search terms.

A great example by our client sntv is the Champions League final video Arjen Robben and Jurgen Klopp on Champions League Final – Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund. This interview featured both Jürgen Klopp (the losing manager) and Arjen Robben (winning goal scorer), both of which had the potential to perform well as individual clips so we also uploaded it in two parts. Jurgen Klopp: “result is so sh*t” – Champions League Final and Arjen Robben Scores Winning Goal vs Dortmund – Champions League Final generated 5x more views than the original, longer video (at the time of writing).

Header image credit: Getty Images