YouTube Cards vs Annotations: What’s The Difference?

YouTube Cards

There is a famous 1980s song called “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Up until recently for online
marketers, it looked as if mobile might kill the video star. We marketers could embed call to
action annotations in our YouTube videos, but only on desktop platforms.

Fortunately, YouTube solved this problem by introducing YouTube Cards, a mobile-friendly
alternative to Annotations. Unfortunately, Cards is missing some key features that users of
Annotations enjoy.

So which is the right tool for you?

In the post below, we’ll explore the pros and cons of Cards and Annotations. We’ll also share
a helpful video tutorial for setting up both tools. Lastly, we’ll examine tips from a video
marketing company on how to optimize YouTube cards for various business scenarios.

What are YouTube Cards and Why Are They Important?

Cards are a new tool to help online businesses and other groups promote themselves. Similar
to Annotations, the Cards feature lets you add links, images, and information about your
product, web site, or promotional cause.

The biggest benefit to this interactive tool is that it works on mobile. That’s good news for
online marketers, who up to now have been unable to tap the full reach of YouTube’s
eyeballs. According to YouTube statistics, 50% of views come from mobile devices. With
mobile playing a key role in online shopping, that’s a lot of lost sales.

Cards is a welcome solution to all those empty hands.

How Cards Stacks Up Against Annotations

Cards shares several interactive features with Annotations. Both can be set to pop up at any
time. Both also offer data insights in the analytics dashboard. Yet while both sit side by side at
the digital dinner table, the two tools have different personalities and purposes.

Think of Cards as the button-up corporate type, while Annotations is the more bohemian free
spirit.

Here’s what that looks like to you:

Cards Pros:
• Has a streamlined look
• Mobile and more business friendly
• Easier image upload

Cards Cons:
• Position is unmovable from top right location
• Uniform card size
• No color choices
• Limited to 5 per video

Annotations Pros:
• Flexible pop-up locations
• Can be any size
• Many color schemes
• Unlimited number per video

Annotations Cons:
• Not mobile/business friendly
• No job security: YouTube plans to phase it out

If mobile marketing is not a critical part of your company, or if aesthetic choices are important
to your brand, then you might want to consider staying with Annotations for the time being.

Start Dealing, Talking, and Popping in Less than 4 Minutes

If you’re looking for a great tutorial on how to create both an Annotation and a Card, YouTube
media expert Dana Rivera explains the process in under 4 minutes.

The video includes a recap of some pros and cons we discussed above. If the recap doesn’t
interest you, you can skip ahead to the 1:30 minute mark to learn how to add the popups.

Some tips to ensure ROI is in the Cards

Currently, YouTube offers six types of Cards to promote your business, brand, or cause.
These cards include video links, playlist links, fan funding, fundraising, merchandise, and
associated websites.

For business purposes, we’re going to explore the last two. Merchandise Cards let you add an
image, a URL to a YouTube-approved retail site, and a call to action. Associated Websites
Cards also allow you to include a link to your web site or landing page.

A video marketing guide from reelseo advises the following tips to optimize your card content:

For Merchandise Cards

• Sign up with a YouTube retailer
• Optimize your retail landing page with full descriptions, testimonials, and reviews
• Use the best available image for your Card
• Use a strong call to action

For Associated Website Cards

• Associate your YouTube channel with your website
• Link off-site to your home page or a landing page that supports your video
• Optimize the title and call to action to entice the viewer
• Upload a compelling thumbnail image

Toolbox Time

You’re now ready to start experimenting with various business uses for both Cards and
Annotations. Although each tool comes with its own set of tradeoffs, we’re glad to have more
ways to grab all those eyeballs bouncing around desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

Tell us about your experience with the two different tools.

Want to learn more about making money through YouTube and other video channels? Read
our Simple Step-by-step Guide To Video Marketing.

Mark Marcelletti


Hey There. My name's Mark Marcelletti - CEO of 7 Figure Automation. Our information products and coaching programs are successful in helping people just like you progress the Internet landscape to attain financial freedom. I've set out to create a culture of innovation to help you build the business of your dreams through creativity, conversations, and shared best practices. I hope you'll join me!


Mark Marcelletti, Entrepreneur | Speaker | Digital Marketing Consultant

YouTube Cards vs Annotations: What’s The Difference?

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