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What to Know About YouTube’s New “End Screens” Feature

Tech

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While YouTube is still the king of video (for now), it faces several challenges, and it’s trying to make it easier for users to decide what to do next by shoving it in front of their face (in a good way).

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When you watch videos on YouTube, especially from vloggers and internet personalities, you’ll likely notice two things: 1) the person promotes a different video or a YouTube channel, and 2) small thumbnails or boxes of text that you can click to view a new video or account.

As integral as this feature was for YouTube creators, it’s about to be re-imagined. YouTube just announced that they’re introducing “End Screens” to the platform. This new, mobile-friendly tool makes it easier for viewers to take an action right as the video ends (anywhere from 5-20 seconds before it ends), and encourages them to watch more on their device.

Creators and accounts that enable this feature will be able to add up to four of these per video, ranging from thumbnails for other videos, playlists, channels, and website links.

According to YouTube, “Annotations was a desktop-only tool that allows you to add clickable links to your videos, to manually create end screens. This will no longer be necessary, as the new End Screens are not only easier to create, but also allow you to reach more viewers on desktop and mobile.”

Why Does This Matter? It Removes Decision Paralysis

One problem YouTube faces in competition with videos on Facebook and stories on Instagram and Snapchat is what happens once a video is done. YouTube still is very much like a search engine for most people, whereas Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are more for news, entertainment and passing the time. With these new end screens, it’s a small step towards catching up with the other platforms which are heading more and more towards a format the keeps the content going (think about Instagram Stories, and how they auto-play the next one up).

While YouTube is still the king of video (for now), it faces several challenges, and it’s trying to make it easier for users to decide what to do next by shoving it in front of their face (in a good way). “Watch this next video,” “subscribe to my channel,” “check out my best friend’s channel,” and “come to my concert buy buying a ticket here,” are all possible and clickable with these end screens.

They also make collabs among creators easier. End screens might represent the end of “click the links in the description below,” a famous and commonly used line used by creators at the end of their videos to promote more stuff. In fact, these end screens might even be incorporated into videos in creative ways that you wouldn’t expect.

Creators are called that for a reason, and YouTube even hinted at this possibility, saying “So how will you use End Screens? We can’t wait to see the ideas you come up with,” at the bottom of their announcement.

If you want to see what they actually look like, watch this Jamie Oliver video and skip ahead to the 04:12 mark where you’ll see three End Screens appear, two of them promote specific videos, and the one in the middle promote his YouTube channel.

These are now available to everyone, and here’s how to get started:

  1. Sign in to the your YouTube account.
  2. In the top right, click your account icon > Creator Studio.
  3. In the left menu, select Video Manager > Videos.
  4. For the video you want to add the end screen to, click Edit.
  5. In the top tab bar, click End screen.
  6. If the selected video contains annotations, follow the instructions to unpublish them. You can re-publish them at any time.
  7. You’ll see your video with the predefined grid and a timeline below that indicates the available part for the end screen. Click Add element. You can add up to four elements, and one of them must be a video or playlist.
  8. Choose how to build your end screen:
    • Add element: You can add up to four elements to a video. At least one element must be a video or playlist. Select each element and fill in the required information, then click Create element.
    • Copy from video: You can copy an end screen from another one of your videos and edit the elements.
    • YouTube template: You can choose from predefined formats that show combinations of elements. You’ll need to define the content for the elements in the end screen, such as add the channel to be featured.
  9. Adjust the placement and size of each element on the grid. Adjust the time for the element to show in the timeline below.
  10. Click Save.

You can preview the element at any time by selecting Preview on the top left of the player. You can always go back and edit the end screen and its elements.

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