YouTube is rolling out End Screens to all creators, which, as the name suggests, lets any YouTube creator add thumbnail overlays to the end of their videos. Previously only available to a select number of creators, End Screens seems to be the next iteration of YouTube’s End Cards feature, which was announced in March 2015.
End Screens have the potential to drive real engagement with viewers, even more so than Annotations. And if brands and publishers fail to use this new feature at the end of their videos, they could be missing out on the opportunity not just for engagement, but also for brand growth and increased revenue. Here’s why.
YouTube End Screens: How They Work
As already noted, End Screens are thumbnail overlays which encourage viewers to click to view another video, get more information, visit a website, subscribe to the channel, and more.
End Screens can appear in the last 5-20 seconds of a video, and desktop viewers can hover over them for more information while mobile audiences just need to tap on the thumbnails. Creators and publishers can use up to four End Screens, as long as their video has a 16:9 aspect ratio. YouTube notes End Screens will also suppress other interactive elements, such as branding watermarks and card teasers.
One major difference sets End Screens apart from Annotations: the newest end-of-video tool is mobile-friendly. While End Cards are available on mobile devices, annotations are a desktop-only feature, which means mobile viewers can’t click them. End Screens, however, function properly for viewers on both desktop and mobile devices.
Why YouTube End Screens Are Important for Publishers
As noted on the YouTube Help page for End Screens, the feature is meant to create a “powerful end-of-video experience for your viewers.” This purpose alone makes them incredibly valuable for brands and publishers who choose to take advantage of this important new feature.
A primary reason brands and publishers should start replacing Annotations with End Screens is because, as previously described, End Screens are mobile-friendly. This element is crucial to the value of End Screens over Annotations, since half of all YouTube users now access the video site from mobile. Therefore, brands who only utilize Annotations are missing out on engaging all those mobile users. By choosing to implement End Screens instead, brands and publishers immediately improve their chances of reaching mobile audiences by 100%. These mobile users will then potentially buy more products via linked End Screens, leave YouTube with a more favorable impression of the brand, or even watch more videos on its channel.
In this way, End Screens are also incredibly beneficial in terms of improving watch time across a brand’s entire channel, which increases the likelihood of that brand’s videos gaining more attention across the entire site. This is because YouTube uses the watch time metric, calculated by average view duration times the number of video views, in its promotional video algorithm as a way to determine which content audiences deem worth their time. YouTube then promotes that content in users’ search results and video suggestions.
If brands create quality videos that convince viewers to watch more content via the use of compelling End Screens, brands may start to see increased retention and watch time across their channels, thanks to the YouTube algorithm. Therefore, brands and publishers should create at least one End Screen per video which points to another, relevant video on their channels. Over time, this tactic should increase overall watch time metrics and more content promoted organically via YouTube’s video algorithm.
Finally, brands and publishers can use the new End Screens as call-to-actions to encourage specific actions from their viewers. One example is by promoting products via video (which is important considering YouTube is routinely a top destination for consumers looking for information before purchasing products and services). Let’s say Brand Extraordinaire created a video with a YouTube influencer using its newest product; by linking an End Screen to the web page where a viewer can purchase that same product, Brand Extraordinaire is likely to gain some more sales for that item.
Promoting products isn’t the only way brands and publishers can use End Screens to drive specific actions from audiences, however. End Screens can also be used to encourage viewers to subscribe to a publisher’s channel, or visiting a brand’s site for more information. It’s up to individual brands and publishers to choose how to implement End Screens as call-to-actions, based on their goals for that particular video, a larger campaign, a long-term marketing plan. And while call-to-actions are important, brands should pay close attention to whether or not viewers react negatively to too many End Screens requesting them to do something.
How to Best Use YouTube End Screens
Some best practices for End Screens were already mentioned above, but here are a few more to help brands and publishers implement this new feature on their channels:
#1 Create videos with the goal of including End Screens.
The YouTube help page for End Screens notes videos should be created with enough time at the end of the video to add a brand or publisher’s preferred number of End Screens after the video is uploaded. Additionally, brands and publishers should edit the last 20 seconds of their videos with End Screens in mind (see #3 below for more tips on how to do this right).
#2 Time End Screens wisely.
Since End Screens appear in the last 5-20 seconds of videos, brands and publishers can use all or as little of this time as they want. That being said, brands may find viewers react differently to an End Screen which appears in the last 15-20 seconds of the video than in the first five-ten seconds of the allotted End Screen time. This new end-of-video feature may also work better in a staggered release pattern instead of displaying all at once. Essentially, brands and publishers should test different timing methods for their End Screens to find what works best.
#3 Don’t use visual cues to highlight End Screens, and don’t include important content in them, either.
YouTube will take performance, audience behavior, device, and context into consideration when tweaking End Screens, stating, “There may be instances where your end screen, as designated by you, may not appear. For example, we may skip the end screen when your video is playing in background mode, or adjust placement on very small screens.” Therefore, it’s best for brands to avoid having any on-screen talent point in the direction of an End Screen, in case that End Screen never actually displays, and to avoid putting vital information in an End Screen instead of in the full video itself, as YouTube could theoretically remove that particular End Screen.
As always, it’s important to remember results with End Screens may vary by brand. However, brands can easily keep track of which End Screens are resonating best with their audiences by checking performance metrics via the YouTube Dashboard. These stats should also help brands and publishers compare End Screen effectiveness to annotations, and determine if one type of end-of-video feature works better than the other. Overall, YouTube’s new End Screens feature is an exciting opportunity for brands and publishers to engage viewers on a platform which boasts more viewers on mobile alone than any cable television channel. With End Screens, brands can reach more mobile audiences, increase watch times, and drive specific actions from viewers. As such, brands and publishers should start using End Screens as soon as possible so they can reap the benefits of the feature sooner rather than later.