What does the end of YouTube annotations mean for your business?

Over recent years, video has become an essential tool for businesses. Video is amazing for engaging your audience, building your online presence and turning social media to your advantage.

So, it’s important to know that from 2 May, YouTube is ending its annotation feature.

But what does the end of annotations mean for your business?

What are YouTube annotations?

YouTube annotations are any text, images, links or hot spots that are layered on top of a video.

The annotations were used to encourage viewers to watch more videos or subscribe to a video, or drive them to other places such as their website. Some videos even creatively used annotations to create interactive games or stories through video, such as this Saved by the Bell game.

Since YouTube launched the alternatives of end screen and cards, annotation use has decreased by more than 70%.

In addition, annotations are visible only to desktop users. With 60% of YouTube’s watch-time on mobile, annotations reach only a minority of YouTube’s audience.

From 2 May, YouTube will be closing annotations in favour of cards and end screens.

What is the impact on your business?

For videos that already include annotations, they will still be in place after 2 May. But, you will no longer be able to edit them or add new ones.

The only option left is to delete them.

Instead of annotations, your business will need to look at using end screens or cards on your videos instead.

Like the name suggests, end screens are small overlay screens used at the end of your video. They are used to prompt your viewers to subscribe to your channel, watch another video or click on a link. End screens can be used only during the last 20 seconds of your video.

Alternatively, cards can be used at any point during the video. There are six categories of card: video, playlist, associated website, merchandise, fundraising, and fan funding. They can be used for both  pre-recorded and live-streamed video content. 

Each of the cards comes with its own settings and can also include custom images, titles and call to action buttons. Each video can have up to five cards.

Unfortunately, cards and end screens lose some of the customisability of annotations.

You can’t choose the size or placement of the card you want to use, or set a colour scheme. You are also unable to use both annotations and end screens, so you will need to delete previous annotations on a video to use end screens.

However, using cards and end screens can bring many benefits to your videos, including:

  • A wider audience. Unlike annotations, cards and end screens work on mobile devices. With 60% of YouTube’s video watches on a mobile, end screens and card will reach a wider audience.
  • Easier to create. End screens and cards are a lot easier to create than annotations. You can even import end screens from your previous videos or use dynamic overlays to save your business valuable time.
  • More engaging. On average, viewers close 12 annotations before clicking one. Some users even turn off the ability to see annotations all together, thinking of them as an annoyance. End screens are cards are more engaging for your viewers and blend more organically into your video. As a result, they generate seven times more clicks than annotations.

When using cards, end screens or annotations, our experts recommend that you ensure they are always relevant and not overused. Fewer and more relevant cards are less likely to come across as annoying or as spam for your viewer, increasing their effectiveness.


Ending YouTube annotations loses some of customisability the feature had.

But, end screens and cards are easier and faster to make, can be viewed across more devices and are clicked on more by viewers.

Overall, moving from annotations to end screens and cards is a great move for video on YouTube and can help you make the most of your video.

Ready to create engaging videos for your company? Get in touch today.

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Posted by Katrina Starkie