The days of YouTube annotations will soon be over

The YouTube app icon.

  • Google quietly announced that it would remove YouTube annotations starting January 15, 2019.
  • Google already discontinued the annotations editor in May 2017.

If you have videos on YouTube that use annotations, you might want to sit up and pay attention. Google quietly announced that it would stop showing existing video annotations starting January 15, 2019.

The announcement was so quiet that it came as an update to a previous statement that Google discontinued the annotations editor as of May 2, 2017. Even so, YouTube users are still more than welcome to use cards and end screens, which adapt much better to different displays and are far less obtrusive when compared to annotations.

We doubt many people will shed tears once January 15, 2019, arrives. Introduced in 2008, annotations quickly gained popularity as ways to highlight related videos, direct people to online stores, make corrections in videos, and everything in between.

The problem was that some videos would feature a ridiculous number of annotations and create visual clutter as a result. It also did not help that the use of annotations dropped by 70 percent by the time Google decided to discontinue the annotations editor.

Editor’s Pick

To replace annotations, Google launched two YouTube interfaces in 2016: cards and end screens. Cards show up as a small pop-up on the top corner, while end screens show up at the end of videos to highlight a YouTube user’s channel and any links they want to highlight.

Not only do cards and end screens lead to cleaner viewing experiences, but they also generate seven times more clicks across YouTube and work well on mobile. Annotations, meanwhile, do not show up on the mobile YouTube app.

All of this comes together as a good justification to burn annotations to a crisp and try to forget that they ever existed.

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