Guide step by step: How to use Youtube Annotations

how to use youtube annotationsYouTube annotations are among the most valuable tools that YouTube offers us to increase the members of the channel, make more involving videos, add information, create interactive stories and link to other videos, channels, profiles, Google Plus or YouTube search results.

Essential to the achievement of the famous interactive video, allow you to enter commands into the video thanks to which the YouTuber have produced some truly sensational clip as the video that allows us to play a piano! There is also who has realized a whole site inside a video only with annotations of YouTube.

What are annotations

The annotations allow you to add a point of interest or an interactive text within the video that helps to maintain awareness of the public and through which you can communicate to the viewer of the actions to be taken. It is one of the most effective marketing tools you have available to enter call-to-action and references to encourage your audience to view other videos in your channel.


You can decide the position in which they will appear in the video and the moment of start and end. By default annotations are visible in all accounts but one option allows you to disable it in the Playback tab. So if you can not view them you may need to enabled.

How to insert the annotations?

The annotations can be reached by management video when you click the Edit button in correspondence of the video where you want to add annotations.

At this point you can insert different types of annotations: comic balloons, note, title, area highlights and label.

Simply start the video, and when you want to add the annotation, click on the desired type. YouTube will automatically add the annotation providing a duration that you can change using the fields "Start" and "End" (on the right) or directly below the video, in the area where the annotations are represented on the line of the timeline: in this case just drag with the mouse the symbol of the annotation in the portion of video you want.

In the Properties pane of the annotations, always on the right side of the screen, you can modify the details of the other annotations such as size and font color.

Almost all annotations allow to match a link to the message (or to a portion of video). The link can be activated by clicking on the link box at the bottom left: at this point you will be offered several options: videos, playlists, channel, profile / google+ page, subscribe, fundraising project.

Using annotations you can link:

  • Videos: post the link of a video of your or another channel.
  • Playlist: post the link to your playlist or a playlist of another channel
  • Channel: Enter name as you can find in the URL of your channel or another channel.
  • Google+ Profile / Page: connected to the YouTube channel.
  • Subscriptions: read my guide on how to increase enrollment to the channel via annotations.
  • Fundraising project: link to a valid fundraising project published on the following platforms: Kickstarter, RocketHub, Causes, DonorsChoose,, Indiegogo,, Crowdrise.

Comics, Note, Title, Area highlight and label are different types of annotations that can be used for specific purposes. Let's look at them individually.

Types of annotations

types of youtube annotations

Speech Bubble: Text overlay into a comic balloon (Link Allow).

Note: Text overlay into a window (Link Allow).

Title: Text overlay to create a title (Link Not Allow)

Spotlight (Area Highlights): To highlight a portion of a video with a slight outline. Moving the mouse will also display text. However, you can also choose not to enter any text: This annotation will be useful in case of End Card or of images or texts inserted directly into the video during editing and you want to make it clickable, such as in the case of video interactive. (Link Allow).

Label: Similar to the Area Highlights but you can not leave without text because when you pass the mouse over, label is displayed. (Link Allow)

Pause: This annotations has been removed.

After inserting the annotation will need to save and publish it. Annotations can be modified (or deleted) at any time simply by selecting them and changing their properties.

How and why to use annotations

The main calls to action that are conveyed via annotations are:

  • conquest of new members to the channel;
  • sharing requests, likes, comments and additions to bookmarks (social action);
  • increase of viewing time on video (retain the viewer on the video) for example through the questions;
  • suggestion of other videos (or playlist) to watch;
  • updating the information of the old video;
  • navigation elements, for example, to postpone to a certain time in the video or an next / previous episode;
  • added over the oldest video of links to new videos, so to capitalize upon the popularity of the oldest video to promote their latest creations.
But YouTube itself invites us to use them with caution and effectively so do not steal the viewer's attention from the video and specifies that "incorrect use of annotations may stop the vision and distract users, have a negative impact on the experience of vision and ultimately cause the abandonment of the spectators". Source.
So you have to examine on an ongoing basis the performance of the annotations (we will see later how to do it with YouTube Analytics) and follow a few guidelines: The following is a table made ​​from YouTube that categorizes the uses of annotations welcomed and unwelcomed.
Annotations welcomed to the viewers:
  • Annotations that complement and enrich the video;
  • Annotations that are not excessively invasive;
  • Annotations that are contextually relevant and bring value in favor of the audience.
Annotations unwelcomed to the viewers:
  • Annotations that distract and reduce the quality of the video;
  • Annotations that take precedence over the video;
  • Annotations that bring benefit only to author of the video (often perceived as spam).


The annotations must therefore be a real added value to the video, supporting those that can be of real needs and curiosity of the viewer at that moment rather than imposing the steps that we wish to make to the public. For example to present via annotation a link to another of our video that has nothing in common with the topic of the video in question, could be perceived in a negative way by the viewer. Or create an annotation too large, it may block the viewing of the video with consequent abandonment of the viewer.

TIP: Before you start to insert the annotations on your video, you can try to see channels more or less similar to yours as they are employing: almost all YouTube partners are skilled in the use of annotations so why not start by taking inspiration from the most talented?

Guidelines for the implementation of the annotations

  1. Too many advertising messages or calls to action could be viewed with disfavour by your audience: only propose relevant and useful information. The annotations such as "Subscribe", "Put I like", "Add to bookmarks" work best when inserted at the end of the video, but channels that already have a large following (I refer in particular to the show of the famous YouTuber) they usually require the "I like" to the beginning of the video: This strategy, however, may not be suitable for you or your company.
  2. Leave annotations for a duration of 5-7 seconds, or the time necessary so that the viewer can read the contents.
  3. Reduce the size of annotations so that they cover the video as less as possible.
  4. Use soft colors or transparent; and use more vivid colors only when the annotations must be at the center of the video.
  5. Show one annotation at a time: insert multiple annotations at the same time may confuse and annoy the viewer.
  6. The annotations must be secondary to the video so do not place them ever at the center of the player, unless it is an interactive video with a navigation menu, a game, a quiz ... In general, places the annotations to the edges of the video. The following image shows some optimal placements:
best annotation placement
The best positions correspond to the numbers 1 and 3, while it is not recommended to insert the annotations in the middle (number 5). Caution to place your annotations in zone 7. They may be covered by subtitle or from ads.

Examples and Tips

1. Area Highlights

As mentioned at the beginning, annotations can be combined with the links. The link will be more effective if instead of being added on a text annotation (such as the note or speech bubble), will be included within an area highlight (spotlight annotation) around an element of the video that will create a "point of interest clickable ". This technique can produce better results than the simple text annotations.

2. Interactive Video

The ability to create an interactive storyline for the video is a feature that distinguishes YouTube by most video sharing platforms. The interactive video creates a unique experience for the spectators and offer themselves to many uses such as that seen earlier in this article of an agency that has created its own website completely in a YouTube video. Pringles has recently made ​​a series of interactive advertisements in which he asked the fan / viewer to bet between one of the two protagonists of the video: the examples are many and with a little creativity you can find the right idea for your interactive video.

They work very well also for the promotion of products: imagine to promote a new car and to present to the users a range of colors to choose from. The following video promotes the launch of a new album, interactions allow you to switch from one track to another and try nicely previews of the content of the music.



3. Chapters

Thanks to the annotations you can also split a long video into a series of chapters.

The links to the specific sections, as in interactive video, you create using the YouTube timecode that allows you to start the video from a specific point: Use this tool to get the code in a simple way.

4. End Card

At the end of the video suggest to the viewer to watch more videos of your own or of other channels. You can do this through the cards that are inserted at the end of the video to contain the call-to-action and are very effective: they are used ever more frequently from YouTube partners and allow you to customize the end of the video offering more information and more choices to viewer.

The following is a tutorial to make a End Card, by the size necessary for video editing techniques to overlay the video preview:

Check the effectiveness of annotations

To track the performance of your annotations there is a specific tab within YouTube Analytics, within the Reports Involvement.

Also in the Report traffic sources we find the indications on the performance of annotations, in particular we discover how many users are arrived at a particular video through annotation.


In addition to the options listed, there are also Merch Annotations that allow you to link to an external website to YouTube (for example, a product card of an ecommerce), but this feature is only available to partners who have associated a website to their YouTube channel.
Remember: Annotations are displayed in the standard YouTube player and built-in player, which means that if you are using a custom player probably the annotations will not be visible. In addition, the annotations will not be visible even in video playback from mobile devices, tablet or TV.

Useful Links

  1. YouTube Official Guide
  2. Chapter about annotations - YouTube Playbook
Social Network: 

Similar Content

How to find the right niche for your blog

how to fine niche

The web is full of endless blog generalist that "only occupy space and positions", they can not be nobody because talk about topics completely different from each other, without being able to reach the top of Google results.
To be successful, it is very important to decide then a specific niche, a specific topic is not very wide which allows to get you out of great satisfaction and be among the first positions in SERPs (in the results of a Google search).
Web Marketing: 

Analyze Your Facebook Page and That of Your Competitors

analyze facebook pagesAll activities have a Facebook Page, whose goal is to be known and particular importance is given to the number of "Like" that these activities are able to obtain. But there are two other aspects to be taken into account and that is how to analyze and monitor these pages.
Social Network: