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YouTube today introduced cards, describing the new addition as an “evolution” to the video portal’s annotations feature. In short, cards will be replacing annotations as the main way to link viewers to other videos, playlists, merchandise, fundraising campaigns (including fan funding), websites, and more.

To add or edit a card, head to the Video Editor and click on the new “Cards” tab. There are six types of cards available upon launch: Merchandise, Fundraising, Video, Playlist, Associated Website, and Fan Funding. Depending on the card type, you can customize its image, title, and call-to-action text.


As you can see in the images above, cards work across mobile and desktop. This addresses one of the biggest complaints about annotations: They don’t work on all the various screen sizes that YouTube supports.

In fact, mobile support is cited as the main reason why the Google-owned company will be replacing annotations with cards. Unsurprisingly, cards also nicely tie into the design of other Google products — like Google Now, for example — that rely on the card user interface element.

Here is how cards work. A teaser is shown at the designated time for a few seconds, and viewers who click on it can then access the card directly:

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 4.46.12 PM

At any other time during the video, viewers will see just the “i” icon appear when they hover over the player on desktop or whenever the player controls are showing on mobile. They can click or tap this icon to browse all of the cards included in the video.

Despite the debut of cards, YouTube isn’t ready to kill off annotations just yet: “Our goal is to have these eventually replace annotations.” The company didn’t provide a date, but said “this will happen only once they can do everything annotations can do today, and more.” Already, cards work on live streams and offer performance reporting in YouTube Analytics.

YouTube is currently asking for feedback on cards. More specifically, make sure to report not just bugs but also feature suggestions, as once annotations go away, cards will be your only option.

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