YouTube is bringing the curtain down on its Annotations Editor engine as it continues its focus on more relevant mobile-first tools such as End Screens and Cards. YouTube said that the change, which will take effect on 2 May, follows a notable decrease in the use of annotations and the fact that viewers often find them annoying and unhelpful.
Annotations Editor debuted almost a decade ago, when desktop was the primary means for consuming creative video. The functionality allows publishers to include small text boxes within clips to direct users to other videos and add ancillary information and other small footnotes, but YouTube revealed that its usage has slumped by 70 per cent.
The main reason for the significant fall-off is that annotations only work on desktop and can’t be seen on mobile. Optimising video for smartphone and tablets is now more of a pressing concern for brands, and YouTube believes that the limited use of annotations means that they are no longer relevant to content creators and audiences.
“Annotations Editor launched in 2008, before the world went mobile,” YouTube Product Manager Muli Salem said in a blog post. “With 60 per cent of YouTube’s watchtime now on mobile, why go through the work of creating annotations that won’t even reach the majority of your audience? End Screens and Cards work on mobile and desktop, giving you more bang for your buck.”
Salem stated that End Screens and Cards are much better for reaching fans and retaining their interest, as they offer the ability to add polls, recommendations and links to merchandise. He added that the two features drive 700 per cent more clicks across the YouTube platform compared to Annotations Editor and that viewers close 12 of the small boxes before they even click through on one of them.
YouTube is now aiming to invest entirely in these mobile-focused tools and wants to make them even more intuitive and faster to implement. Salem stated in the blog post that the social giant has already listened to feedback from users to make it easier to import End Screens across videos and include smart elements, adding that it is now up to ten times faster to get them up and running compared to adding annotations.