YouTube Announces Format Changes for 2019 and Spam Subscriber Purge

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Creating video content is a great way for a brand to spread their message to a target audience. While many small businesses focus on creating small videos that can be used for online ads, some content marketers have used long-format videos to reach target audiences. YouTube is the best platform for sharing videos with a wide audience, but Google has announced some changes that will affect YouTube marketers and advertisers.

When using a long-format video to promote a business or brand, it’s common to add screens at the end of the video that show where someone can go online to learn more. These end cards can also have clickable links and call-to-action buttons. Any brand that already has these set up for videos on their YouTube channel will need to go back and update them. Google has announced they are phasing out the old call-to-actions on end cards and replacing them with something new.

“Making videos interactive with features like end screens and a call-to-action helps viewers learn about your brand or service and take relevant actions,” the company explained in a Google Ads answer post. “In an effort to simplify our interactivity features across video ad formats, we will sunset the YouTube call-to-action overlay in January 2019 and introduce a new call-to-action extension.”

With the TrueView for action ad, the ad format comes with built-in features like a call-to-action displayed while the video ad runs and after it ends. This is best for campaigns were generating web traffic is the main goal.

If the primary objective is something other than clicks or conversions (i.e increased brand awareness or spreading information), YouTube will offer a new call-to-action extension that can be applied to TrueView in-stream ads, and later, to Bumper ads and TrueView video discovery ads.

Brands that have YouTube channels may also have noticed a large decline in their number of followers over the past week. YouTube recently announced that they would be deleting a large number of spam accounts from the platform. This was no small pruning. YouTube warned channel owners a few days in advance to prevent alarm.

“We regularly verify the legitimacy of accounts and actions on your YouTube channel. We’ve recently identified and fixed an issue that caused some spam not to be removed. Today/tomorrow, we’ll be taking action and removing subscribers that were in fact spam from our systems,” the company explained in a Dec 12th help post. “We use a mix of industry leading techniques and proprietary technology to identify spam on the platform. Often, these types of actions are meant to make channels look more popular than they actually are.”

Unfortunately, spam accounts often subscribe to legitimate channels as well as the ones they are paid to subscribe to, so it’s less obvious what they are doing. This means that some businesses and brands that have never paid for subscribers will see their subscriber counts drop as YouTube removes spam accounts and all the engagement they generated.

This purge shouldn’t affect metrics such as watch time, since spam subscribers usually don’t watch or engage with content on the platform other than to subscribe or like a video. Channels that are impacted by the purge will see a notification banner in their YouTube Studio or Classic Creator Studio.

For content creators, the purge can have real consequences. If a channel ends up falling below the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) threshold of 1,000 subscriptions as a result of the purge then they will be removed from the program, which impacts their ability to make revenue from the site.

For more recent news about changes at Google, read this article on the new Merchant Promotions ad format from Google Ads.

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