Annotations give producers the opportunity to create an in-video call to action such as sharing a video with their friends. In fact, videos have a higher chance of going viral if viewers are specifically asked to share. Annotations also expose viewers to your other videos and even allow them to subscribe to your content on YouTube. Some brands even use annotations to promote their upcoming campaigns.

Brands that have used annotations include:

  • Peeps. In their most recent campaign, Peeps released a YouTube video with annotations, that popped on the screen in perfect time with the actor’s speech. Aside from the visual coordination, the annotations weren’t obtrusive, and meshed well with the concept of the video. The creative use of text is what made these annotations successful.
  • Ford. In their “Doug the Orange Puppet” YouTube videos, Ford used annotations to encourage subscriptions, and link to related videos. Remember, the initial wave of views on YouTube comes from your existing subscriber base. Adding a subscription annotation to your YouTube channel allows you to grow your subscribers quickly and effectively.
  • Volkswagen. Again, annotations that have a clear purpose and are useful for the viewer, are accepted well. With the use of funny annotations, Volkswagen was able to gain 73 million views for their commercial “The Bark Side: 2012 Volkswagen Game Day Commercial Teaser.” Of course, the evident parody of Star Wars helped the viral-ability of the ad.


Annotations add another element to your YouTube videos that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Whether it’s a call to action or informational text, annotations that are used properly engage the viewer and make your video useful on a deeper level. Try thinking of annotations as YouTube’s version of hyperlinks. While annotations and hyperlinks aren’t exactly used the same way, you should approach both with the same mentality. Neither of them are going to be the meat of your content, but when sprinkled in at the right moment, they can have an incredible effect.

To ensure that your annotations are useful, they must also be likable. Avoid placing annotations in the center of the screen, as this will block video images. The best place to position annotations is around the edges of the video, where they won’t distract from the visuals. You can even opt to have the annotations appear translucent – or to color coordinate them with the color palate of the video. Also consider keeping annotations on the screen for no more than 7 seconds. This will allow viewers to read any text and keep it from blocking any visuals of you videos.