Back in 2018 YouTube changed the way their embed codes work on third-party sites. It happened quite quietly, and without much announcement but its rather an important shift in how YouTube embeds behave so we thought we had better explore how this changes your sites relationship with YouTube and how you might use video embeds moving forward
Here is how the embed video settings used to look by default when you selected embed video code on any YouTube video pre- October 2018. ( See below)- apologies for the quality screenshot here- we grabbed it for a walk through we did on this technique as it was the only record we had of how it used to be.)
Here is how it looks now ( see below)
As you can see, two of the original four embed code control options have been removed including the all-important ‘Show suggested videos when the video finishes.” Unchecking the ‘Show suggested videos’ option used to ensure your video just ended and didn’t show any links to other videos. That’s not how it works anymore.
So what is the big deal with that? Well, it means that if you are embedding videos into your own website, you have just lost an easy way to control whether related videos are shown to the user after the video you embedded has finished playing. Related video links can cause you a problem if you allow them to trigger unfettered. You might not realise it but YouTube will choose related videos and personalise the ones it shows based on that YouTube users individual recent watching habits and preferences as well as the context of the video you have embedded. If you have customers who are researching a particular product category and watching a selection of different videos then this could result in prominent visual links to your competitor’s videos showing up within the embed video window on your brand’s website. That’s not an ideal outcome.
Let’s just explore how that looks and functions in practice with an example one of our own videos.
Standard embed- here is what the embed code looks like for those of you who are curious.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/T8GP4wHdpMk” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
If you play the above video through to the end of the video you will notice you get lots of related videos that YouTube deems relevant to you. Clicking on any of these options will open up a new browser tab taking you away from our website and into YouTube.
OK, lets now take a look at a Standard embed code where we have manually added in the old “?rel=0 ” to the embed URL
( we have highlighted the ?rel=0 additional code so you can see where this gets inserted.)
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/T8GP4wHdpMk?rel=0” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
With this video when we get to the end you will notice that only other videos from Target Internet’s channel are being displayed.
So what should you do about it? Well, there are still a couple of choices you have.
Option 1 Make use of the “?rel=0” code
Adding ?rel=0 onto the end of your YouTube video reference was exactly what the original “show suggested videos when the video finishes” option used to add when you unchecked that control box. It actually still works, but not as it used to. Before October 2018 the video would just end and return the tone start screen. It will now display related videos from the same channel as the video you have embedded. So, if you have a lot of embed videos on your blog and have been using the rel?=0 trick you may well start getting a lot more traffic leaving your site on pages that have videos from YouTube embedded. If you have just been adding standard default embed code into your posts you aren’t likely to notice much difference but we hope this article highlights some of the issues with using YouTube embeds to play your own videos. remember – if you have embedded videos from other peoples youtube channels you will still get other videos from their channel recommended. We haven’t found any way to stop this, but if you know of one please do get in touch.
One thing we found you cannot do is to add ‘?Rel=0’ code if you have enabled the privacy enhance mode when you grabbed your embed code from Youtube. If you did this the code would look something like this
<iframe src=”https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/T8GP4wHdpMk?rel=0” width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></iframe>
but don’t waste your time. It will have no effect.
Option 2 Use a dedicated paid for Video hosting service
Use a dedicated paid for Video hosting service like Vimeo for any video’s of yours that you want to embed gives you all your control back. We use Vimeo Pro video hosting at Target Internet and it’s great. If you have existing third-party videos embedded into your blog, you might consider finding those videos on Vimeo and making use of Vimeo’s embed code to play the videos instead of YouTube’s. A lot of brands have a Vimeo channel, and actually with this change in the way YouTube’s video embed code works we would argue that having all your brands videos available via Vimeo as well as on YouTube just became quite a valid consideration for any brand serious about encouraging video sharing without the related videos issue creeping into the deal un-invited.
Above you can see the same video uploaded into Vimeo. Because we have a Vimeo Pro account we are able to set up a custom video player which we can apply to this video or to all our video embeds and it has got some great functionality you can control built into the custom Vimeo Player. You can upload a custom transparent PNG logo to be used by your player and link that logo to any page you wish. You also have complete control over how the player behaves at the end of the video. In the example above we have asked it to display our other videos as YouTube does. However, we can just as easily ask it to link to any web page or a multitude of other useful things. The options were so numerous we couldn’t capture them all in one screenshot so we put together a short video to show some of the options available. Another video hosting option you might consider is Wistia who have some great features for custom players and embeds which can help you to retain control.
Should you still host videos on YouTube?
Well as YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web, the answer to this is absolutely YES! Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Placing your video content on YouTube is one of the best ways to ensure it shows up to people looking for it and we have a number of suggestions on how to optimise that video content so it gets found in this podcast. However, with these changes, you may need to rethink how you make use of video embeds within your own website. Marketers spend lots of time, money and valuable resources getting traffic to their websites. We all know how much video content can help users to convert. However, the last thing you want to happen is for some of that traffic to get sucked back into YouTube possibly at a crucial moment in the purchase decision-making process. Get familiar with how the new embeds work and make a strategic choice for how videos behave on your website. As we have pointed out- you don’t have to use YouTube for delivering videos on your own website.
Hopefully, this article will give you a good idea of how to approach video on your website. The important thing we think you should all do as a minimum of these changes is to make a note now of how your website content is making use of YouTube Video embeds and make a firm decision on how you want things to work moving forward. With the right set up, you can avoid video embeds unwittingly driving your website visitors back to YouTube or to your competitor’s video content.