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YouTube Kills Annotations Because Everyone Hates Them

Dave Parrack 17-03-2017

YouTube is killing annotations in favor of End Screens and Cards. There are several reasons for making this change, but the main one seems to be that everyone hates annotations. Or, as YouTube rather more diplomatically put it, “viewers generally don’t love annotations”.

Annotations, for those not familiar, are those boxes that pop up randomly during a video. Content creators use annotations in a variety of different ways, such as correcting misinformation, sending viewers to other videos, and making unfunny in-jokes. But YouTube is now killing annotations once and for all.

Annotations Are Obsolete

Since annotations first became a thing in 2008, the online video business has changed somewhat. Crucially, the world has gone mobile 5 Reasons Not To Buy A Smartphone You may feel pressured into buying a smartphone, even though you're perfectly happy with your (so-called) dumbphone. Don't be. Read More , with most people watching YouTube videos on their smartphones. And YouTube annotations have never worked on mobile devices.

In the meantime YouTube launched End Screens and Cards, two products that work on desktop and mobile, and which between them offer pretty much the same functionality as annotations. And YouTube clearly feels that the combination of End Screens and Cards renders annotations obsolete.

On the YouTube Creator Blog, YouTube Product Manager Muli Salem explains, “As adoption of End Screens and Cards has grown, the use of annotations has decreased by over 70 percent”. What’s more, viewers “close 12 annotations before they click on one of them”. In fact, most viewers “turn off annotations altogether”.

As a result, YouTube is discontinuing the Annotations Editor on May 2nd, 2017, after which content creators will only be able to delete existing annotations. It should be noted, however, that existing annotations will remain visible to desktop users, at least until YouTube decides otherwise.

Splitting Opinion Amongst Creators

YouTube’s decision to kill annotations seems to be splitting opinion amongst content creators. However, as a viewer I’m pleased to see them disappearing for good. They rarely added value to any videos I watched, and ended up just annoying me instead How to Disable YouTube's Annoying Annotations On-screen annotations were meant for good, but many YouTube creators misuse them and abuse them. Here's how to turn them off and get them out of your face. Read More . So, sorry, YouTubers Life as a Vlogger: What's It Like? We Asked 10 YouTubers You probably know about the YouTube giants – PewDiePie, Jenna Marbles, the Vlogbrothers – but what about all of the smaller vloggers who make up a huge amount of the content produced on YouTube? Read More , but this viewer is 100% behind YouTube on this particular occasion.

As a viewer, how do you feel about YouTube annotations? Did you ever click on them or just close them instead? As a creator, how do you feel about YouTube annotations? Are you happy switching to End Screens and Cards instead? Please let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: Anthony Ryan via Flickr

Related topics: Online Video, YouTube.

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  1. RazeDevastator
    May 3, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Seriously? I get that people can obnoxiously stick them on videos, but I've always used an annotation as the perfect button to click on the side in case you wanted to skip my video intro. A very practical use for them, and for some asinine reason, end screens and cards won't allow you to create a button for the same video, even if the URL points to a different time in the video...

    End screens also screw up creative liberty for showing clips of your upcoming videos on the actual video itself with an unappealing, static thumbnail of the video instead that you can't even get rid of... These are a joke compared to annotations, or they need to set up a new way to make blank box buttons with some text inside. This is an abomination!

  2. Phil N
    March 24, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    They're not killing them because everyone hated them they're killing them in spite of everyone loving them. You quoted the blog post but did you read the comments from that post? It's pretty much nothing but angry YouTubers complaining about it being removed.

  3. Raphael Alexander
    March 17, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    So glad, I had to unsubscribe from someone because a thing for the same video popped up in every single video.

  4. bustedbracket
    March 17, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    The annotations were a good idea in concept, but very rarely used well. More often then not they were abused to annoying lengths. So while it would be nice to keep them for the good stuff, I'm glad I won't see them anymore for the 99% of the shit.

  5. Peter
    March 17, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Considering that most times I see them they're as part of a game review correcting an error in the original video, I appreciate them for that purpose. End screens or cards don't replace that real-time note indicating a correction. I also see them for Kickstarter previews and the annotations have been well-used/placed to provide a link to the campaign if you're interested. And with Google's track-record the existing annotations will be killed soon enough because "nobody uses them". If they're that annoying, pop up a warning when someone creates them or show creators how many annotations are closed almost immediately - preferably by video and annotation.

  6. Youtube Viewer
    March 17, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    I personally think it's really annoying when videos have annotations. I never read them and always close them so they're not in the way of the video. It'll be nice not having to waste time anymore closing the.