September 1, 2015

A guide to YouTube cards


A Guide to YouTube Cards

YouTube isn’t the most subtle of platforms. Sometimes you’ve got to slap the viewer in the face with signposts about how you want them to interact. It’s tricky – trust us we’ve tried a few tactics.

We’ve learned a lot in the last few months about what works and what doesn’t. Take The Marijana Method as an example. In an attempt to help the audience engage with our core content of eight shows, we did a number of things to improve interaction.

One thing we created was augmented content around each show. This content was short-form tasks directed at the viewer to talk to them directly. Try a task yourself now, you’ll feel better about yourself. These bite-sized videos helped viewers to engage with the series and acted as bait to hook them onto Marijana’s line.

Another thing we did with that series was try to link each video in the series at the end of each episode.


This little effort was no such thing. It became a task that got bigger with each episode. You see, if an episode was yet to air we linked to a preview video for the episode which was focused on getting a viewer to subscribe. Once a new episode was released we then had the task of updating all the pre-existing Marijana videos to update the links.

The effort was rewarded however, the click rate on our Marijana videos is very high and that series continues to drive subscribers to our channel.

Imagine however, that benefit without the hassle – which brings us to YouTube cards.

YouTube Cards – Annotations done properly

Annotations are great, but there are a few limitations with them that have needed addressing for a while. For example, if you are viewing the Marijana Method on your mobile phone then all our hard work is wasted on you, because you are not able to interact with annotations on a phone.

Of course if you did get your annotations working then you would always have a nagging feeling that you were somehow tarnishing the polish of your beautifully graded video by scribbling with biro over the top.

YouTube Cards look good!

Call us shallow, but YouTube cards look good – it matters. Look at the misalignment of those calls to action on the Marijana video. Doesn’t it jar with you? Now take a look at the card on this Ralph Kidson classic, Serengeti.


How much nicer is that execution than the annotations at the end of the Marijana video, and those annotations were cutting edge, pushing the envelope, annotations!

The card shown in the picture above (shameless plug: you can buy his beautiful comics here) is one of the types of cards you can have – this is an ‘Associated Website’ link. Right now, you can choose from six types of cards: Merchandise, Fundraising, Video, Playlist, Associated Website and Fan Funding.

The ‘Playlist’ link is the smart little fellow who would have made our lives in January so much easier. Rather than having to annotate all those links in the Marijana videos, we would have just had to add one card and managed one playlist. Simple, quick and effective.

So, what’s the downside?

Yep, there’s always a downside isn’t there and here’s the consideration with cards.

They are a bit, reserved. If annotations are a bit Timmy Mallet – all noise and garish colours, then cards are a bit more Benedict Cumberbatch: straight lines and quietly confident. The trouble is with Timmy Mallet burping in your face you may never notice Benedict enter (and subsequently leave) the room.

We’re hoping people fall in love with that little ‘i’ in the top corner of the video. But, for now we’ll still be annotating our content as well as adding cards. So, in the short-term, more work – hey-ho.

If you’re interested here’s Google’s guide to cards.


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