YouTube CardsYouTube recently rolled out a feature called “Cards” which will eventually completely replace “Annotations”. YouTube’s annotations feature was a bit flawed, the biggest drawback being that they didn’t work on mobile. With 50% of video views on YouTube being from mobile, that’s a huge drawback. Cards gives video marketers a more attractive mobile friendly option for viewers to learn more on your website, purchasing options and more; directly from YouTube.

Right now, you can choose from four types of cards: Associated Website, Fundraising, Merchandise and Video/Playlist and they can be added at any point in the video. When you are in the edit mode for any of your videos on YouTube you’ll see a “Cards” tab in your Video Editor to create and edit them at any time. For most you simply add a link, a bit of teaser text, a headline and the call to action text for the link button. You can even add your own compelling image if you don’t have one on the landing page. So here are the four options:

Associated Website

Associated Website is by far the most important one for any business operating online and allows you to link directly to your associated website from a card. This is fantastic because you are able to direct viewers to your website who may have been searching on YouTube to solve a problem. Of note is you can only link to the website that is associated with your YouTube channel. But any landing page, product page or blog post on your website can be added. Now you can provide a solution and next steps that are directly on your website. Get them off of YouTube with all of its cute kitty video distractions and get them to your website where you can control the user experience.


The Fundraising card allows you to link out from your video to a Google approved list of fundraising sites. The Approved fundraising sites includes such notables as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Gofundme among many others. Fundraising links are a great option for brands and individuals looking to drive awareness and support for their crowdfunding campaigns on one of the supported sites. You just need to be in a crowdfunding mode but if so, there’s a card for that.


The Merchandise option allows anyone selling physical products some limited options for link outs. For musicians or independent artists there are a number of great “white listed” merchandising sites such as Google Play, iTunes, Etsy and CafePress to name a few. If you sell your product at any larger retailers though such as Amazon, Target, WalMart, etc. You’re out of luck. So to small independent artisans or musicians the options are robust and provide a great opportunity to connect the viewer with where to get your stuff. If however you sell a product available in retail stores, you’re better off using the Associated Website Card and directing the viewer to your website…at least for now until they add more “white listed” merchandising options.

Video or Playlist

Finally the Video/Playlist option does as you’d expect and you can link to another video and/or playlist of videos on YouTube. This might be a great option for videos which may be more general videos offering an explaination, solution or answers to problems but don’t get into your product or service itself. You could add a card that links interested viewers from that video to more specific product or service videos on YouTube. This helps to build trust with the viewer. At the end of the more specific product or service video it would be more appropriate to play the Associated Website card as they’d be more likely to want to learn more. Gaining the viewer’s trust is critical before asking them to take the next step.

For the vast majority of people marketing their products or services on YouTube, the Associated Website option is going to prove the most valuable. But the Video/Playlist card is a great way to gain viewer confidence first by offering them to watch other related “snackable” videos. The Merchandising and Fundraising cards also provide a great opportunity for the right YouTube marketers, you just need to be in the right situation to take advantage of these specific options. Here’s an example card we created that comes in right before the closing of our infamous fake Bananas PSA:



Because cards work on both mobile and desktop, you get a much more flexible solution to share call-to-action options with your viewers that are appropriate to what they are searching for and where they may be in their decision making process. Have you put YouTube’s cards to work for you yet?



Eric Guerin is the founder of Adelie Studios. He chooses to use his creative powers for good and not evil by helping businesses to better market themselves using animated marketing videos. He can easily be bribed with coffee. Read more of Eric’s posts