Keep viewers watching
Turn one view into many by setting up cards, annotations, and video descriptions. These built-in features can keep your fans engaged with your channel and related media. Cards and annotations are clickable tools you can add to each of your videos that encourage viewers to take an action, at specific time points in your video, like: watch more through a playlist, go to your website, support your fundraising campaign, or subscribe. Video descriptions are opportunities for you to add context to each video and share your brand. By encouraging viewers to watch more, you can help boost your channel’s watch time which aids your placement in Search and Suggested Video.
Turn a single view into longer watch time using annotations, descriptions and more.
Cards are preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile which you can set up to promote your channel and brand. Choose from a variety of card types like: merchandise, fundraising, video, and more. Once they’re set up, a small rectangular box, or teaser, will appear in the top right corner of the video to give your fans a preview or teaser of the message. If viewers tap or click the teaser, the card associated with the video appears along the right side.
Cards work best when they are placed in conjunction with scripted calls to action. For example, if you mention a video or merchandise, try adding a card at that exact moment. Cards are convenient because they give the viewer an option to click, and if they don’t, it disappears from their view. Note: there may be cases when the card may not show up, for example, if your video has been claimed by Content ID and the content owner has set up a campaign.
- You can use cards and scripted calls to action to link to other videos, playlists, associated websites or to prompt your audience to buy merchandise or support your fundraising campaign.
- You can also use cards in older videos to highlight your most recent uploads, or to highlight new or relevant merchandise or fundraising campaigns for your audience.
- Consider a card at the same time as a scripted call to action.
- You can have up to five cards per video.
Annotations are clickable, customizable text or images that only appear on desktop. You can use them to send viewers to more of your videos or playlists, your website, to cross-promote, or take viewers back to your channel page.
Spotlight annotations are commonly used by creators to create custom end-cards that link out to other videos or sites. These annotations are only visible when viewers hover over them. To try this out, you’ll want to edit-in elements, like a logo that you want to make clickable, and add a Spotlight annotation to the area you want viewers to click on when you make the video public. You might even consider writing a custom call-to-action in your script.
- Annotations are often most successful when used to promote your content at the end of the video. End of video annotations have shown to have significantly higher clickthrough rates than annotations placed in the middle of videos, and dramatically lower close rates.
- Viewers tend to prefer annotations that keep them watching videos on YouTube, video and playlist annotations at the end of a video tend to perform better than other types of annotations.
- Avoid annotations in the lower third of the video because advertising can obscure them. Also, you may want to avoid annotations along the very top of the frame because the video player can cut them off when shared outside of YouTube.
- Try not to obstruct your actual video content with annotations. Annotations should add value and not get in the way of the viewing experience.
- Ensure that annotations are always visible long enough for the viewer to make a decision to click on them. Some creators leave annotations visible for more than 15 seconds at the end of their video!
- Use the Annotations report to see how they're doing and compare against your others.
- Find out if your annotations are distracting by seeing if they have high close rates (the percentage of people who click the “x” to close that specific annotation).
- You can use a short link service like goo.gl or bit.ly, to get a rough estimate of clicks to video views.
- Learn how to design annotations that viewers like and where to place them.
See it in action
VSauce - Guns in SpaceVSauce directs viewers to more content on the channel and their partner channels using end cards. (Video in English)
White Lies 'Ritual' uses annotations as a navigation toolTime coded annotations are a great way to splice up long form content and aid navigation. If you’re a music creator, upload a full album along with time coded annotations, giving viewers the flexibility to jump to any song they’d like. (Video in English)
Widowspeak - Thick As Thieves uses endcards to direct users to more contentEnd cards with annotations can encourage viewers to explore more content on the channel and drive more watch time. (Video in English)
Hishe uses endcards to direct users to more contentAt the end of "How Harry Potter should have ended", How It Should Have Ended uses clickable annotations to drive viewers to more videos, to their merchandise store, and to subscribe. (Video in English)
Featured content promotes a playlist or video from your channel across all of your uploads at one time. (It was formerly called “InVideo Programming”). This type of promotion is viewable on desktop and can help you bridge devices.
Video descriptions serve to reinforce the story of your title and thumbnail in the first couple of lines and let new viewers know that you have an entire channel full of great videos. They can also aid in the discovery of your videos in search, help viewers find specific time points within your videos, and get viewers to take an action before or after they’ve watched your video. Remember, only the first few lines of your description will appear in search results or above the fold when they click to your video – so make them count!
- Successful creators often use the first 2-3 lines of their description to tell the full story of their video. Check out how much of your description shows up on desktop, tablet, and mobile and consider editing based on the devices your viewers watch from.
- Try including additional links to your site or other social media presence so viewers can connect with your brand everywhere. Note: by sending viewers off of YouTube, you run the risk of receiving less placement in Search and Suggested Video.
- You can use credits to shout out other channels that worked on the video with you. Credits appear below the description field. Try using short links (like goo.gl) to track the performance, like basic click-through metrics, of links in your description.
- Make sure your metadata isn’t misleading, that’s a violation of YouTube Terms of Service.
How else can you use your video description?
How are your individual annotations performing?Try it now
Use the Annotation report in YouTube Analytics and benchmark your annotations against your other ones to see which are most successful and which need to change.
Are your annotations distracting to the viewer?Try it now
Check out your annotations’ close rates (the percentage of people who click the “x” to close that specific annotation). High close rates could mean your annotation is distracting for the viewer.
Do viewers click your description links?Try it now