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How YouTube Cards will Transform Marketing

Since the very first video upload in 2005, YouTube has become one of the single largest marketing channels and online communities on the internet. With over 300 hours of video uploaded to the website every single minute, the widespread use of the video platform is known and loved by all and has even launched personalities such as PewDiePie to internet celebrity with over 12 million subscribers.

For any marketer or business professional, YouTube annotations have been a well-known and highly regarded YouTube tool. For those that don’t know, annotations are clickable lines of text that overlay a YouTube video. These are used to drive traffic to various other videos or websites for further marketing and conversion opportunities. YouTube is now getting ready to abolish the text and replace it with “YouTube Cards”. If you missed out on the annotation train, however, not to worry. These new cards will be far more capable and appealing than the previous model, and annotations will still be hanging around for a short while.

Here is why YouTube is swapping out annotations for YouTube cards and how this switch spells great news for business owners everywhere:

The Problem with Annotations

The internet is a wildly interactive place, and YouTube is the pinnacle when it comes to live-action video. The addition of annotations on YouTube allowed the once-passive platform to become more interactive by allowing users to click through from video to video, playlist, or to the author’s pre-approved website. This ultimately proved to be a great tactic to drive interaction, traffic, and ultimately conversions.

The issue that marketers face is that annotations cannot be seen on mobile devices. This becomes a huge problem considering that 50% of content uploaded to YouTube is mobile specific. This means that not only can 50% of the material on YouTube not be branded with this marketing text overlay, but mobile viewers across the world are therefore impossible to convert or funnel. With one quarter of the 1.9 billion mobile internet users accessing the internet strictly from a mobile device, annotations are not looking so sweet to marketers anymore. Luckily, YouTube is now taking the bull by the horns to get this situation sorted out.

YouTube Cards: The Solution to the Annotation Problem

Meet the new YouTube card. YouTube cards are essentially nothing more than annotations that have evolved to become more effective, stylish, and versatile for the marketers who use them; not to mention intriguing to the viewers who see them. As of now, cards will not be wholly replacing annotations until “[cards] can do everything annotations can do today, and more. Until then, we’re looking forward to your feedback on cards, including what you want them to do for you in the future” stated YouTube.

What makes the new YouTube cards so exciting to marketers is the various new features and abilities of the amped up annotations. First, cards will now be visible on mobile devices. This fact alone doubles the number of leads and sales that can possibly be generated from seeing any given video. Additionally, YouTube has added 6 different types of cards for various marketing techniques to be employed. The cards that are currently available for utilization are:

  • Merchandise: Images can be added and the creator’s merchandise can be promoted directly from the video.
  • Fundraising: Allows video viewers to be linked directly to programs on approved fundraising platforms.
  • Fan Funding: This card allows those who employ it to harness the power of the community by allowing appreciative viewers to make monetary donations to keep the page up and going.
  • Video / Playlist: Serves as a direct link for viewers to find related videos or playlists associated with the current video.
  • Associated Website: Link directly to the creator’s personal or business website. This is truly where mobile visibility plays an enormous role in increasing a business’s bottom line.

YouTube cards will now also display an information tab throughout the duration of the video making the card available at all times instead of appearing at a certain point in the video. These tabs are only able to be placed in the top-right corner as of now, but with the innovations YouTube aims to generate with cards, these will undoubtedly become movable.

YouTube cards are poised to become something much more than annotations could ever be. The previous version of the text was to be used sparingly to avoid becoming a nuisance. Cards, on the other hand, provide a stylish and retractable portal for anything from fundraising, to selling merchandise, to gaining more subscribers. This new form of annotation will take marketing on YouTube to a new level. Optimize your YouTube channel and outfit your uploads with these cards for a sleek new look that will no doubt boost leads and ultimately boost your sales.

Do you believe that YouTube cards will launch the platform to new heights in the eyes of marketers and businesses alike? Or will the new form of annotations produce the same outcome, only with an updated look?

About the author


Tina Courtney

Digital producer, online marketer, community manager, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney-Brown has been managing cross-functional teams for online businesses since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, community management, social networks, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and spiritual counselor. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.


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  • Thank you for sharing, i just found out that there are youtube card. Subscribe to this this very useful website

  • Hi Guys. With these visual articles please can you add a screen grab or artists impression so we can get a feel for what the change would look like.

    Otherwise great article.
    Cheers james

  • As we all know that Google makes life easier in terms of there products.

    Now marketers also thankful to them.

    Great knowledge share, Tina
    Thanks for the article.

  • Thank you for this timely and valuable post. I just went and added cards to all my videos.
    I did not know annotations were not visible on mobile. That is key. That was the clincher for me to go and add them. Mobile is huge!
    Thank you for making that point clear.

  • Never though YouTube will play such crucial role in marketing. Thanks Tina for sharing valuable piece of info.

  • Many marketers make use of YouTube videos to increase website traffic and this will. YouTube is no doubt presently driving more than 10% of all traffic through video responses. The introduction of YouTube card to replace Annotations will be a good move for Google to meet the mobile need which is not presently solved by Annotation. This may improve the bottom line for Google and YouTube Users.

  • Thanks for the detailed notes on youtube card varied use in marketing, especially the funds gathering points in video marketing process. Overall the article is very useful!!

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