Content Ratings Appear on Some YouTube Videos

Movies often carry ratings like “U”, “PG” or “R” to help parents know if there’s anything in the film that may not be suitable for viewing by their children. A similar rating system exists in YouTube as well but for advertisers.

YouTube Content Ratings

When YouTube partners upload videos to YouTube, the system will pick up the existing content rating from MPAA (if the uploaded video is a movie) else partners can specify their own ratings for video.

Unlike standard film ratings, YouTube has its own rating system that’s more granular. For instance, partners can assign an “L” if the video includes “strong language” and “L+” for “very strong language” and so on.

While ratings in films are primarily for parents, YouTube added content ratings so that their advertisers could easily target “clean” videos.

One of the videos that I was watching recently had this “Viewer Discretion is Advised” message displayed for a few seconds and then the video resumed. This is interesting because, initially, YouTube said they had no plans to display the ratings to viewers but maybe that policy has changed now.

To know how content partners can rate their videos, watch the follow clip:

Did you know? Film rating symbols can vary per country. For instance, if a movie gets an “A” certificate in India, it’s for 18+ or adults while an “A” in Norway or Denmark means that the movie is recommended for “All” ages.

Originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal.

10 Killer Tips for Creating a Branded YouTube Channel

There was a time when YouTube was considered a wild-wild west of content — a place where marketers shied away from uploading their commercials, let alone building a branded channel. But these days, YouTube has become more mini-van than stagecoach. From Toyota Sienna’s high-profile television commercials urging consumers to visit their YouTube channel, to (what might be considered the anti-minivan) Harley Davidson’s fan-centric YouTube universe, there has been a noticeable shift in corporate adoption of the platform.

There are many companies now that are hopping on the bandwagon. Just about every corporation and small business is creating a branded channel on YouTube, but there are still relatively few marketers who have managed to harvest the full potential of the platform.

Whether your brand already has a YouTube channel that’s in need of a facelift, or if you’re interested in developing one from scratch, this article will provide some practical tips and valuable tricks to help you kick-start the process.

1. The Test Tube on YouTube

Look at your YouTube channel as a new, exciting learning lab. Be malleable in your approach to both the content and design of the channel. Don’t be concerned with acquiring thousands of friends and subscribers right away. Use this time to test, gather insights, and see what works for your brand and what doesn’t. Unlike your company’s website and traditional marketing collateral, the look and feel of the channel can be changed, tweaked and optimized without a huge investment of time and money.

2. Plotting Global Domination? Check Your Swagger

Ideally, you’ll want to be goal-oriented during the launch (or re-launch) of your channel. Before your itchy little finger goes to hit that “upload” button, consider the needs and goals of your various target audiences, and keep reminding yourself that web video is distinct medium.

Next, think about your marketing objectives and overall brand strategy. Are you using the channel to attract prospects, provide customer support, or build a list of subscribers? Understand that there might not be “one size fits all” content if you are trying to accomplish all three.

Let your strategic goals drive the tactics you use to create and promote videos, and consider whether a paid sponsorship would offer an advantage. If you check out YouTube’s advertising channel, you can get a basic overview of what brands can do with the platform, but be forewarned — the information is a bit heavy-handed on the sales side.

The United States Navy Channel has a wide variety of videos aimed to attract potential recruits. The Navy’s recruitment-focused channel is organized into playlists that target specific groups of recruits with military precision.

3. Avoid Over-commitment Issues

Strongly consider outsourcing. I’ve never met a marketer who wasn’t time-starved. Let’s face it: You probably don’t have time to be uploading content, let alone coming up with titles, descriptions and tags, friending, rating, commenting and optimizing. And I’m giving you fair warning: Entrust this project to a summer intern at your own peril.

While you should allow yourself the flexibility to experiment, YouTube can be a high-profile place to make gaffes, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you’re going to outsource, you might consider looking for a specialist who is already set up and can implement your strategy. Creating web videos and knowing how to market them on YouTube requires a whole different skill set than web development — just because it’s online doesn’t mean that it’s a job for the company that builds your website.

4. Be a Social Media Butterfly

Think of your YouTube channel as an extension of your brand that lives and breathes. You’ll need someone who is dedicated to tending to that page, building your audience by reaching out to fans, and managing your profile online.

Start by searching your brand on YouTube and see what the existing conversation looks like. Then try reaching out to people who already have an affinity for your product or service by commenting on their videos and/or “friending” them. Remember that YouTube is an online community, and if you’re not participating in the dialogue, then you are missing the opportunity for true engagement.

5. Don’t Just Re-purpose Old Content

You should post your television commercials online, but don’t let that be the only content on the channel. Remember that television commercials are designed for a one-way medium, and that while audiences may want the ability to see your commercials on-demand, if that’s all you have to offer, they will never visit your channel again.

And don’t just post your commercial and 15 derivative videos about the making of it, or “director’s cuts” of the same, unless they have legitimate value as content in their own right. YouTube is an opportunity for your brand to go beyond traditional “push” marketing tactics and to create videos that address multiple audiences and a variety of consumer needs.

Intel uses their popular television campaigns as the feature reel on their channel, but they also offer a wide variety of other content, including a look at what it’s like to work at Intel, and video from a game developers conference.

6. Broadcast Your Best Self

Make the feature reel on the channel the most entertaining or best piece of content that you have. If that means that it’s a cleverly written and witty commercial that was originally destined for TV, so be it. If a viewer visits your channel, you’ll only have one chance to impress them with your content, so if you don’t entertain them or offer some overwhelmingly valuable information, you’ll lose an opportunity.

7. Make a Menu of Content to Feed Everyone

Understand that YouTube is a search engine for video. Create tailored content that considers what consumers are searching for or need to know about your products and services. If you play your cards right, when consumers are searching for information about your competitor, they’ll come to your videos first. Instructional and how-to videos that show consumers how to use your product are always a good place to start, but also consider the value of integrating your product into existing YouTube shows and then favoriting those videos on your channel.

8. Juice Your Marketing: Extract Extra Value

YouTube does not exist in a vacuum. Try to integrate your YouTube channel into the rest of your marketing programs and cross reference/promote your content. You can extract more value out of your event marketing if you think about ways to co-produce video content. Remember, integrating marketing channels and initiatives is well known for producing a campaign “multiplier effect.” Whether it’s video shot at a trade show or a promo for an upcoming event, just make sure that the video is well produced and edited for length.

Harley-Davidson took advantage of it’s photo shoot with popular model Marisa Miller for the V-Rod Muscle as an opportunity to get some behind the scenes footage and put together a video for YouTube. Harley definitely got extra value from the photo shoot as the video is one of the most-watched on their YouTube channel.

9. Be Homegrown

Grow your channel instead of “launching” it. If there is any medium that pays attention to grassroots movement, web video is it. And be patient — it takes time to spread the word about your channel, and it takes care and nurturing for it to catch on. Keep releasing content on a regular basis, integrate your YouTube channel into your other marketing efforts, bring your customers extra value, and your presence will grow.

10. Keep the Future in Mind

YouTube was started in early 2005 — look how much has changed in a five-year time span, and how fast web video has progressed. As new technology and distribution channels emerge (like the iPad), try to think about how you can create web video content that will serve your brand into the future. During the production process, you should keep user-experience in mind and plan for the audience to be watching your videos on screens the size of a TV, as well as on their mobile phones.

Post by: Catherine-Gail Reinhard is Executive Producer & Director at Videasa, an award-winning web video agency that creates campaigns on YouTube and emerging media platforms. You can follow her on Twitter @catherine_gail.

Make YouTube Videos (even without a camera)

How Anyone Can Make YouTube Videos

I was at Podcamp San Antonio 3.0, an un-conference, this past Saturday. It was great to meet many other people in the Social Media space here in San Antonio. With the open format, people who had ideas about what to talk about were able to propose an idea. I led a session about online videos, and how anyone can make videos, even people without a video camera. I also addressed the why part of online videos and YouTube, as in “why would I want to make YouTube videos.” The simple part of that answer is to gain more visibility and targeted traffic.

I’ll outline the main points here for those of you who were not at the conference, and list some links & other resources at the end for those who want to put this idea into action!

Why You Should Use Online Videos As Part of Your Internet Marketing?

You will extend your reach to more prospects by using online videos. A good strategy for content producers is to deploy their content in many formats. Similar to the local media empire (newspaper, television, & radio station), even small content producers should leverage their content across many formats like print (as a blog post, article on directory sites, online press releases), video (online video), and an audio only production (like a podcast, or embedded audio file in a web page). The main reason for doing this is that with your content deployed in just one place your prospects have just one piece of content to find. If the same (or similar) content is deployed to 5 places in a variety of formats, the prospects would now know have 5 ways to find the content, and get your message. Increase ways for people to find your content, and you will increase your targeted visitors.

Video SEO (search engine optimization) is a new area where marketers have discovered ways to get their videos indexed and ranked in the organic search results of Google and Yahoo. Videos that effectively use keywords in titles, descriptions, and file names, can rank high in organic search results on both the video tab, and even the web tab. Google and Yahoo both are taking some videos and showing them as web results, in some cases nearly instantly after posting the video up on sites like YouTube. Video SEO represents an easier way for many firms to get first page organic results in competitive keywords than if they were to try and get their company website those high organic results. For non competitive keywords its super easy to get first page results with videos. All of this means that you can gain more visibility online, and get more targeted visitors, with some good video SEO techniques employed.

Pillar Content vs Feeder (or teaser) Content

For purposes of categorizing content, lets just consider content in just these two categories. Pillar content is the deep, detailed-rich content that your prospects are looking for. Examples could be good blog posts, a how-to or tutorial, a white paper or case study available for download, or a review of a popular product or service. You could make pillar content videos, but they are more complicated to make because they are going to be longer, and more involved than Feeder (or teaser) Content would be. Feeder content can be used to promote your pillar content, and feeder content is much smaller and easier to produce than pillar content. So instead of having to make a long video that repackages your pillar content to video, you can just make a short and sweet 30 second video that will promote your pillar content. This video can be promoted with a headline in the same way a pillar content would be, and the feeder content video will attract your prospects similarly to how pillar content would. Either video, long and complicated, or short and sweet, can equally attract visitors. The point of discussing Pillar vs. Feeder Content in the context of online videos is that videos do not have to be long and complicated, you can get several benefits from short & simple videos that are easy to make.

Videos Are Another Way To Promote Your Website

Any type of content can be repackaged to a video! Consider something as basic as marketing a Dentist office online. The Dentist may have a print ad, brochures, or even videos from vendors available to re-purpose into other types of content to be used online.

How-to videos, product or service reviews, and teaser (feeder) content to promote other content on your website or blog are all very popular formats for online videos. Of course some people will use video as their core way to deliver their pillar content, like a celebrity news video blog or online TV show. In that case just flip around what content feeds the other. They would use blogs, article marketing and other content formats as feeder content to deliver to their videos. Most businesses will use online videos as feeder content to promote their pillar content on their website, blog, or podcast.

How Anyone Can Make YouTube Videos Without A Camera

There are a few popular ways to make video files without a video camera, or editing experience. Two main formats are available to make pretty professional videos without using a camera. One way is to use screen capture software to record a video file of your computer’s screen, with audio narration added these make great how-to or training videos. The next type of videos you can make without a camera are the slide-show like videos which also usually have audio narration added to them.

You can build a slide-show or powerpoint like video using Windows Movie Maker (which comes with XP & Vista), iMovie (which is on most Macs), or by using VideoMach. You simply thread together a series of still images (that you can make in photoshop or another graphics program) that will each display for a few seconds each (you set the time for each image). Next, add an audio track to your slide-show which includes narration, then finally output your work as a video file.

I recommend you use Audacity (a free audio editing software) to record and clean up narration tracks, and to use opening & closing bumps with music to make your videos sound even more professional. Many times I write a script, and get the audio done first, then I build the slide-show to sync along with the audio file, that way your transitions from one image to the next flow along with your narration.

For screen capture software there are a few options, several of which are based on which is a free open source video screen capture software you can download. Camtasia Studio is a full featured screen capture editing suite that runs about $299, Jing and Animoto are new screen capture services that are relatively turn key but not as fully customizable as others, and ScreenFlickworks on Macs.

After you have made your first video, be sure to consider the SEO benefits and be careful naming the video with good keywords that will help you attract the maximum amount of targeted visitors. If you have any questions about which video sites, in addition to YouTube, you should be submitting to, and if you have any questions about how to optimize your videos for SEO benefits, get in touch with me through the comments below or shoot me an @ message on Twitter.