In broadcasting, a “bumper” is a brief announcement, usually two to 15 seconds in length, that can contain a voiceover, placed between a pause in the program and its commercial break, and vice versa. The host, the program announcer, or a continuity announcer states the title (if any) of the presentation, the name of the program, and the broadcast or cable network, though not necessarily in that order.
As John Gregg, a software engineer at YouTube, observed recently on the YouTube Creator Blog, “Everyone knows the power of a good introduction. Imagine watching The Simpsons without its iconic opening sequence. Wouldn’t be the same, would it?”
That was his intro to a new way to create a distinctive bumper for your videos, so you can more easily build a consistent brand your fans will recognize. Now, you can automatically add an intro video up to three seconds long to the start of every video on your YouTube channel.
It only takes three easy steps to set up:
- Upload the three-second intro video you’d like to use as a bumper to your channel as an unlisted video.
- On your channel’s In Video Programming page, click “Add a channel branding intro” and select the intro from a list of eligible videos.
- Select which videos you want the intro to appear on. You can choose whether to add the bumper to all of your videos, or just the ones you’ve uploaded after a certain date. You can always remove or change the intro later.
It’s worth noting that YouTube says, “These intros may not be used as ads, sponsorships, or product placements.” YouTube also doesn’t recommend this feature be used by channels using their videos as advertisements.
Why Three Seconds?
You may wonder, “Why up to three seconds? Why not six seconds, like Vine, or 15 seconds, like Instagram?” Great questions.
Many viewers decide whether they’ll keep watching a video within the first few seconds. That’s why a bumper on YouTube can only be up to three seconds long. That’s also why you also want to hook viewers early at the start of every video on your channel. So, here are some important tips, best practices, and strategies to help you do that:
- Make the first shot fascinating.
- Address the audience immediately.
- Tell them what they’re watching.
- Spark their curiosity.
- Ask a question.
- Tease the rest of the video.
- Keep branding to less than five seconds, unless it’s as hilarious as The Simpsons.
Keep Viewers Watching
Of course, you also need to follow your video’s catchy opening with “awesomeness.” The right length for a video is exactly as long it keeps people glued to the screen. Or, as NPR’s Scott Simon advises, a YouTube video should be long enough to tell a story.
And it is also worth noting that Simon’s video is three minutes and 29 seconds long. Now, you may also wonder, “Do YouTube viewers only like short videos?” Another great question.
Well, the latest research from Pixability has just found that even though the videos that consumer electronics brands produce are generally one to three minutes long, the unboxing videos, torture tests, how-to videos, and tutorials that people actually watch are typically three to 10 minutes long.
So, how long should a YouTube video be? Long enough to reach a point.
That said, basic production techniques help!
- Pay attention to lighting, sound quality, and shot-framing.
- Make sure the audio is clear and balanced.
- Properly light your video.
- Include only necessary footage in your videos. Cut, cut, cut! But…
- Avoid sloppy editing. It can be more distracting than no editing.
- Use varying camera angles, cut-aways, and other visuals to make your videos dynamic. Long, static shots can make a video drag.
- Add transitions, overlays, and graphics to help convey your story.
Finally, use the YouTube Video Editor tool to edit videos, add effects or enhancements, and correct minor problems.
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