Google has announced that existing annotations on YouTube videos will be removed on 15 January 2019. The news comes as the adoption of end screens and cards has grown while annotation use has dropped by over 70%. Google stopped giving creators access to the annotations editor way back in May of 2017 but older videos with annotations have still lingered on the platform.
While there are some legitimate use cases for annotations such as correcting mistakes on hardcoded subtitles on foreign language videos for the most part they act as a bugbear to many casual users who have to fight their way through obtrusive annotations to see the video content – not unlike Google’s own banner ads in videos.
Annotations were first introduced in 2008 while most YouTube video watching was done on a desktop computer. When everyone started to consume content on mobile, Google never bothered to port annotations over to the small screen so usage of the feature dropped by over 70%, and instead, creators opted for end screens and cards which work on mobile as well as desktop.
Another reason for ending support for annotations was that they generated seven times fewer clicks than end screens and cards, with users encountering 12 annotations before they click a single one, and some just switching annotations off altogether. The final reason given for axing support is that end screens and cards are just easier to handle because you can import end screens from your other videos and use dynamic overlays to save even more time. All in all, annotations probably won’t be missed by many people at all.