One of YouTube’s classic features is about to go away for good. The video site has announced its plan to phase out its annotations system in favor of more up-to-date features it has rolled out over the past few years.
Annotations won’t disappear immediately. Instead, beginning on May 2nd, creators will no longer be able to add new annotations to their videos or edit existing ones, but will be able to delete them. After that date, YouTube users who wish to add notes to their videos or link to external URLs will have to make use of cards, which were introduced in 2015 as a replacement for annotations. For those who wish to continue the common practice of using annotations in the final seconds of a video, YouTube’s end screens, which launched in 2016, will be a useful tool.
In a blog post, YouTube explained the rationale behind the decision to drop annotations. Most significantly, the outdated tool was introduced in 2008 and was therefore not designed with mobile compatibility in mind. Cards and end screens, on the other hand, work well on mobile devices. YouTube also noted that cards and end screens have higher click-through rates, which backs up our belief that not all annotations were good ones.
At this point, cards and end screens are clearly better options, but we’ll miss the old annotations. We saw some inventive videos based around them, and creators like Chad, Matt, & Rob built entire formats powered by them. I think I’ll send annotations off my choosing my own adventure one more time.