Today YouTube announced annotations would stop working in favor of cards and end screens. The annotation editor allowed creators to add rich links, correct spelling, or add more information to a video once it had gone live. The feature was popular amongst creators, but there were significant drawbacks. The annotations only worked on the desktop version of YouTube. The viewers could turn off annotations at any point if they even could see them.
In the comments of the blog post announcing the death of annotations, creators have been very split. The comments show creators use the annotations, even if YouTube claims the usage has gone down 70%. Some creators use the tools to serve their viewers better. What’s interesting is there isn’t a card or end screen that allows creators just to add a simple message, instead, they all offer ways to watch more content, donate to the Creator, or link to a social network.
YouTube annotations provide more flexibility than cards or end screens
There are different uses you could find for annotations. They allowed creators to note a change in news or information after publishing, link to outside sources, or linking to a video update. YouTubers often tell viewers to turn on annotations if they’re on the desktop site or visit the links below for updates. Now they’ll be left with cards that work on the desktop and mobile version of YouTube. Everything YouTube has done in the past few months has been focusing on making mobile viewing a more pleasant experience. It makes sense when a majority of users watch YouTube on their phone these days.
Cards and end screens aren’t the save all for YouTube. The replacements don’t work on the TV whether it’s through Android TV, Chromecast, or the Xbox app. YouTube needs to work these cards into more platforms to ensure every user get a similar experience, and creators get to provide better information about their channels and other content.
Have you ever clicked on an annotation, cards, or end screen when you’re watching YouTube? I’m often watching on a TV which means I’ve never seen the extra information. Maybe one day I’ll get in on the action, or they’ll get me to change my watching habits.