Google announced the launch of cards for YouTube, which it describes as an "evolution of annotations". Video creators can use them to tell viewers about other videos, merchandise, playlists, websites, etc. They can be displayed anytime throughout the video, and they work on mobile.
"As a creator, you’ve probably been using annotations to engage with your viewers for years," writes product manager Muli Salem in a blog post. "But one of the things you’ve told us is that you need more flexibility with the info you share through annotations, and—most importantly—you need it to work across screens and especially on mobile."
When a video has a card, it shows a "teaser," at the designated time for a few seconds. The card pops out when it's clicked.
Throughout the rest of the video, viewers will see the icon appear when they hover over the player on desktop or when player controls are showing on mobile. It can be clicked at anytime to display the card.
There are six types of cards that creators can utilize. The first one is for Merchandise, and you can see that in effect in this video:
Luckily, the cards aren't incredibly intrusive, so they shouldn't be too annoying to users, and if you click on the one in the above video, you can easily see how this can help you get some sales. If you click through, the landing page opens in a new tab, and the video pauses, so that's nice too, in case you want to go back and finish it.
To use merchandise cards, you'll need to accept YouTube's terms and conditions, which it will show you at set-up.
The second card type is for fundraising:
To use this card, your fundraising campaign will have to come from a whitelisted fundraising site.
The third is for other videos:
The fourth is for playlists:
If you use the video card, and link to an individual video within a playlist, it will default to the playlist.
The fifth card is for websites:
This card also requires accepting terms and conditions. To set up an associated website, you'll have to make sure your account is verified, and you'll need to add your site as an associate website in Webmaster Tools. This confirms that you own the site before you link it to your YouTube account. More instructions on getting this set up are available here.
The sixth card is for fan funding:
You'll need to actually enable fan funding for your YouTube channel before using this card. Instructions for that are here. To be eligible, your account has to be in good standing, you have to meet the general criteria for YouTube partnership, you have to verify your account, and your network has to be enabled for fan funding, if you're in one. You also have to have an approved AdSense account linked to your YouTube account. Only Australia, Japan, Mexico, and the United States are supported by the fan funding feature.
There will be additional types of cards in the future from the sound of it.
To take advantage of the cards, find the new "cards" tab in the video editor. You can create them, and edit them any time. You can provide a destination URL from a list of eligible sites. It will display a top-level URL. Cards will let you customize images, titles, and call-to-action text.
"Because cards work across mobile and desktop and give you more flexibility to share what you want, our goal is to have these eventually replace annotations," Salem tells creators. "But this will happen only once they can do everything annotations can do today, and more. Until then, we’re looking forward to your feedback on cards, including what you want them to do for you in the future."
"Cards are designed to be contextual to the video and should help creators reach their goals, while providing an enriched viewer experience," Google says. "As the system evolves, we plan to optimize it to surface the most relevant teasers and cards based on performance, viewer behavior and the device they are using."
The company advises against pointing to a card in your actual video, because they won't always be displayed the same way, depending on the device the viewer is using. Your account will need to be in good standing to be able to take advantage of them. They do work on live streams.
It's also worth noting that if a video has a featured video or playlist, it will be hidden on videos that use cards. Branding watermarks are now displayed in the bottom right corner to make room for the cards. Videos that display cards will not show call-to-action overlays. Google also advises against using cards too close to one another.
YouTube Analytics provides performance reporting for cards, so that will be helpful if your'e trying to sell something. You might have some testing and optimizing to do.
Images via YouTube