Starting this week, perhaps as soon as September 25th, Google is rolling out a new update that will effect videos embedded from YouTube.
In a previous blog post, we explained how to disable the "related video" thumbnails from popping up at the end of your embedded YouTube videos. This involved adding a few characters in the embed code (specifically, you had to use a code that included the parameter rel=0), BUT now Google is changing the way that embed code functions, meaning you WILL NOT be able to disable the "related video" thumbnails from appearing at the end of your embedded YouTube videos anymore.
We can offer a solution - keep reading!
In a recent update, Google developers wrote:
The behavior for the rel parameter is changing on or after September 25, 2018. The effect of the change is that you will not be able to disable related videos. However, you will have the option of specifying that the related videos shown in the player should be from the same channel as the video that was just played.
To be more specific:
- Prior to the change, if the parameter's value is set to
0, then the player does not show related videos.
- After the change, if the rel parameter is set to
0, the player will show related videos that are from the same channel as the video that was just played.
According to the update, if your YouTube videos are embedded on your website and are using the rel=0 parameter in the embed code, your viewers will now see thumbnails for other videos from the same channel as the embedded video. If you have multiple videos on your YouTube channel, the thumbnails that appear will at least be your own.
*Note that YouTube no longer gives the option to automatically generate new embed codes with the rel=0 parameter included. If you do not currently have the rel=0 parameter in your embed codes, or if you are uploading a new video that you want to embed on your website, you will need to add the rel=0 parameter manually.
To manually insert the rel=0 parameter, first get your embed code from YouTube and paste it into a plain notepad or word document. Now, you will need to find the video ID within the current embed code. The video ID is the string of numbers and letters that appears after the "www.youtube.com/embed/". In the example below, the video ID is HdPrn8lVqH4.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/HdPrn8lVqH4" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Once you've found your video ID, put your cursor after the last character of the video ID, but before the closing quotation mark, and type ?rel=0
Your embed code should now look like this: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/HdPrn8lVqH4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Here's what the embedded video looks like before the change (pause the video or watch till the end to see the pop-ups):
You'll notice that the pop-ups that show before we insert the rel parameter are from other companies YouTube channel's, and are a mix of suggestions based on what YouTube thinks you, the viewer, might be interested in watching, and videos that YouTube thinks are related to the embedded video. But, after adding in the rel parameter, all of the pop-ups are from our own channel.
While this is still better than having thumbnails come up for a competitor's videos (which is what could happen if you are not using the rel=0 parameter at all in your embed codes), having ANY thumbnails appear in the player window can still cause problems for your website traffic.
Once someone clicks on one of the thumbnails in the player window, even if it is for one of your own videos, they will now be taken off of your website and redirected to that video on YouTube. YouTube can now show suggested videos from any user along the right side bar, and even automatically start playing another user's video once yours ends. YouTube is the land of ads and other distractions, and your website visitors might not easily find their way back to you!
There are many options other than YouTube for hosting your videos, though these involve additional cost, and in some cases, restrictions as well. Two of the most popular video hosting sites are Vimeo and Wistia. But our favorite platform for clean, customizable, ad-free hosting is iPlayerHD. Here is the breakdown:
- Vimeo offers a free account, but they will show thumbnails of "Staff Picks" (similar to the thumbnail YouTube shows) at the end of your videos. You can upgrade to a Plus, PRO, or Business account, and have the option of removing these thumbnails, but these accounts do come with a cost. The least expensive of the 3, the Vimeo Plus account, costs $7 a month, billed annually. You can learn more about this option in our blog post How to Change the End Screen on your Vimeo Videos.
- Wistia also offers a free account, and there's no thumbnail pop-ups or Wistia branding, but you can only upload 3 videos. This is a good option if you are just starting out with video, but if you have a bunch of videos already created, or plan to create more videos in the future, you will need to upgrade to a paid account. A Wistia Pro account will cost you $99 a month for up to 10 videos. Each additional video will cost another 25 cents per month.
- iPlayerHD is where we host most of our own videos. It is not free, but the Basic plan offers 20GB of storage and is just $19 per month. The Pro plan offers 100 GB of storage and is just $30 monthly. No ads, no popups. Ever. A clean and professional hosting solution for your videos.
With any of these solutions, in addition to the subscription cost, you will need to upload all of your current videos to the new platform; you can't just "copy & paste" your YouTube videos to the new hosting site. We can help you with setting up your own Vimeo, Wistia or iPlayer account if you like.
Note that we are not telling you to completely dump YouTube. You should have a presence there because so many people use YouTube as a search engine. The objective is to let them find you on YouTube and then quickly get them to your website. But if you want to continue to embed videos from YouTube on your website, we've found a workaround that does not require you to move your YouTube video content but still hides those annoying "related video" thumbnails. It involves the use of a new cloud-based video player that allows you to embed your YouTube videos, using just the existing YouTube URLs. You end up with a special embed code for a fully customizable video player to use on your website, with no ads or popups. We have acquired the rights to use this application and it has performed well in our tests.
We are now offering this video player at a discount to all of our clients who use our YouTube and Social Media account set-up and video management services. If you already manage your own YouTube channel and just need to hide those pesky popups, Contact us to learn more and get pricing info.