Ok folks, by now you likely got familiar with iCards. That was YouTube’s solution for allowing hyperlinks in videos to show on mobile devices that came out in 2015. You could always use outbound links with Annotations but those links wouldn’t show on mobile. And of course we are very much a mobile society now aren’t we.
Let’s look at the differences between all of these options.
Annotations – Update, annotations have been retired by YouTube. Old annotations still work but you can no longer add new annotations.
Annotations are great because you can place text and a link anywhere in your video and have it show up at any time and stay on screen for any period of time.
You can use links to your website, subscribe to your channel, or showcase another video. There is also an array of styles you can use to accomplish you goal.
But alas, you cannot see annotations on mobile devices and with our world revolving in the palm our hand, that’s just not the best solution moving forward.
Along comes iCards. This was a great alternative. Similar to Annotation, you can have place an icards at any time in your video. You’ve no doubt seen these in videos. There is a small “i” in the top right corner of the video and as you scroll over that you will see a “card” with more information.
You cannot however change the placement of the card although you do have options for what you want to use the card for.
This video actually utilizes iCards and Annotations
This was sort of the best of both worlds but YouTube still wasn’t done and then wanted to give Creators the best options. So now we have End Screen Elements. I actually have mixed feelings about this latest addition.
The thing is, with these new “end screens” is that they are meant to be used at the end of the video. It’s great that we can now have a call to action at the end of the video that will display on mobile. However, it’s unfortunate that the new End Screen elements don’t have the same options as Annotations. The other slight drawback is that you can only add these elements in very specific places.
You can move the elements around a little but they have to be on the left side of the video. That means you need to design your video with this in mind. It would be more difficult to add an End Screen with a video you previously created unless you have enough room there to add one or more of the elements.
Overall it’s a great addition and it’s always great to have choices. Keep in mind that you cannot use Annotations and End Screen elements. It’s one or the other.
Call to Action Overlay
There is one more way to add links to your videos and that is the Call to Action Overlay. With this you must have an AdWords account and you need to have your YouTube channel linked to your AdWords account.
Any video that you set up as a video will show the Call to Action Overlay option in both your AdWords campaign and inside YouTube. From YouTube just choose the video you want to add the overlay on, click Info & Settings, and you see the Call to Action Overlay choice.
You don’t actually need to be spending money ads. You can set up a campaign and make your bids low and set up the overlay or just pause the campaign.
The overlay appears as soon as the video starts playing, and then collapses to show just the thumbnail image after 15 seconds. With videos being viewed on desktop, viewers can hover to expand the call to action. On mobile browsers, viewers can click the thumbnail image or arrow to expand it.