YouTube officially axes video annotations
James R | On 28, Nov 2018
YouTube is removing all annotations from videos across its site next year.
Annotations have been a fixture on the streaming platform for almost as long as YouTube has existed, allowing people to put translucent boxes over the top of the videos that include titles, captions notes or links.
However, the end has been in sight for annotations for some time: in May 2017, YouTube quietly discontinued its annotations editor, instead nudging creators towards end screens and cards. Since the introduction of these, the use of annotations has decreased by over 70 per cent. That’s primarily because annotations were introduced in 2008 back before the world went properly mobile. With 60 per cent of YouTube’s watch time now on mobiles – and with end screens and cards working on both mobile and desktop devices – annotations’ time was up.
Creators shouldn’t fear the change: according to YouTube, end screens and cards generate seven times more clicks across YouTube. Indeed, on average, users close 12 annotations before they click on one of them. And many viewers turn off annotations altogether.
“We’re committed to helping you reach more fans and keep them engaged. That’s why we built products like cards and end screens, which are mobile-friendly tools that let you poll your audience, link to merchandise, recommend videos, and more,” says YouTube on its help site, which confirms that you can no longer add new or edit existing annotations.
As of 15th January 2019, though, all existing annotations will be removed and will no longer be displayed to viewers. The news marks the end of one era for the streaming age, but also officially puts the streaming world firmly in the mobile age.