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YouTube Courts Creators With Google Now-Style Cards

The new cards are like annotations that include links to blogs, merch, playlists–and hopefully, more engagement.

YouTube Courts Creators With Google Now-Style Cards
[Screenshots: via Noreen's Kitchen, Brooklyn and Bailey, Introverts by Jade, and Dulce Candy]

It might seem like a minor detail, but YouTube’s newest feature could be a boon for content creators of all stripes–if it doesn’t become too annoying.

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Starting today, YouTube is giving uploaders the option to include informational cards that float overtop or below videos as they play. These rectangular cards, which can include images, text, and links, are intended to be an enhanced version of YouTube’s long-standing annotations feature, and will appear on videos across all device platforms.

Explains YouTube’s Creator Blog:

You can think of cards like an evolution of annotations. They can inform your viewers about other videos, merch, playlists, websites and more. They look as beautiful as your videos, are available anytime during the video and yes, they finally work on mobile.

Right now, you can choose from six types of cards: Merchandise, Fundraising, Video, Playlist, Associated Website and Fan Funding. You’ll find a new “Cards” tab in your Video Editor to create and edit them at any time.

Anyone who has used Google Now might be familiar with this modular style of displaying content: As a given video plays back, cards can pop up at specific times with more information or a link to a relevant website. Say, for example, that I go on a late-night tirade into my webcam and, at some point, I mention selfie sticks. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what I’m talking about, you can click on the small “info” box in the upper right corner, expand the card and click off to the Wikipedia article about selfie sticks.


Like annotations, cards are ideal for injecting richer, relevant information and calls-to-action into a video. Cards are a bit more well-designed than annotations, but their rectangular design also gives them a bigger footprint in the video player–which could become intrusive and bothersome if they’re overused.

If used sparingly, however, cards can be pretty useful for viewers and content creators alike–not just the folks uploading the videos, but third-party publishers as well. It’s too early for there to be any data on this, but one has to imagine that the bigger, more eye-catching design will have a better click-through rate than the original annotations.

It’s a relatively small gesture, but the launch of cards is YouTube’s latest move designed to offer more tools (and freedom) to video creators, whom CEO Susan Wojcicki referred to as the “lifeblood of YouTube” in Fast Company’s September 2014 cover story.

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About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things. Find me here: Twitter: @johnpaul Instagram: @feralcatcolonist

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