In March 2015, YouTube announced YouTube Cards, a flexible new way add interactivity to your videos. What’s more, they look great across all devices, particularly mobile. With more than half of YouTube views now from mobile devices, YouTube Cards make a lot of sense. Let’s take a closer look at how they can be used in your campaigns.
As a YouTube publisher you may have used or been aware of the annotations tool in YouTube. This allows you to overlay important information and links over the top of your video content throughout the video. This was useful for generating engagement with your channel, other videos, and sending traffic to external websites i.e. your own website pages.
YouTube Annotations do the job, but they are rather ugly and until recently did not work on mobile devices. Despite the upgrades over the years, and finally allowing them to work on mobile, something new was needed to better perform on all devices through which we can now access YouTube.
Cue YouTube Cards.
Designed to be contextual to the video, certain cards will ‘surface’ based on video performance and user behaviour. They are very much still a new tool and not perfect, but you can add cards to your videos now and analyse the performance of them in YouTube analytics.
YouTube cards allow you to create and promote a number of different things within your video. Let’s take a look in more detail.
These will simply link to another video. Use this to encourage viewers to continue watching a related video and elongate the engagement time they have from your channel. It shows a thumbnail of the video along with the relevant length, creator information and view count, much like in YouTube video results.
A playlist card is a great way to inform users of a set of related videos and keep them on your channel for much longer. If you want them to perform another action such as visiting your website and buying from you then this might not come until they have watched several of your videos. Use playlist cards to keep them engaged with your content for longer.
Direct viewers to your website or another associated URL with your account and convert them to a website customer. Unfortunately you can’t just link to any website. To prevent any misuse of this feature, YouTube has rules that the links must comply with AdWords policies, YouTube ads policies and YouTube community guidelines. The card can include a thumbnail picture, custom title and call-to-action to better encourage click throughs.
Link to a specific product that you or someone else sells using a picture, title and call-to-action. This can drive valuable merchandise sales that can financially support your YouTube channel production. See the list of approved retailers for examples of shops and products.
The fundraising YouTube Card allows you to directly link to a supported fundraising page using a thumbnail image and title. Ideal if you are promoting a fundraising project.
This is another fundraising style YouTube card, however this time it links to an in-built system that allows you collect donations directly (by enabling Fan Funding). This is ideal for users who have an audience that would like to contribute to directly with the minimum of fuss.
Adding YouTube Cards to your videos is simple and the card interface allows you to quickly add your cards of choice. You can add up to five cards on one video and this is when YouTube decides which one(s) are most relevant to show.
At the moment there are a few things that annotations can do which cards don’t, so you should consider combining the two to achieve your video interaction goals. YouTube Cards do however present the future of interaction on YouTube across many devices.
As with any new tools, the best way to see what works for you is to try them out. It does appear at the moment that YouTube Cards are designed to support the independent video creator, but with the use of video, playlist and associated website cards a business can make the most of this functionality to increase views and direct website traffic.