What are YouTube Cards?
YouTube cards – info cards and end screens – are interactive links you can use to promote other videos, playlists, channels, and external sites while your video is playing. It’s a method of keeping a viewer hooked on your content, or if you want, directing them to someone else’s.
It’s like having your own digital traffic cop to direct people where you would like them to go once they have finished watching one of your videos. Because, if you’re holding someone’s attention, isn’t it best to direct them to more of your content when your video ends?
There are four types of cards you can use in your videos.
At one time you had the option of running a poll from a card too, but this type of card is no longer available.
The cards don’t automatically show when you add them to a video. The viewer instead has to click a small grey info bar which appears in the top right-hand corner. You can set when they appear in your YouTube Studio. Here is how the info-bar looks.
When a viewer clicks on the info-bar, the card displays, the viewer can then click on the card to follow the link.
Cards display in both desktop and mobile versions of YouTube and replace the older annotation system, which only displayed on the YouTube desktop site.
The four types of cards all have a similar appearance, so let’s take a look at each type and how you might use them.
The Four Types of Cards and How You Can Use Them.
You can place cards up to five times per video and can add them in at any point you like. Card placement, though, should be done strategically.
Card placement must always be done with a purpose in mind. Think about how the YouTube algorithm operates. YouTube’s main aim is to keep its users watching content and viewing more advertisements – it’s how they make money.
YouTube attempts to keep viewers tuned-in by suggesting high-quality videos for them to watch next. Have you ever found yourself thinking, ‘I’ll should be doing something else, I just watch one more video’? That’s YouTube’s ranking algorithm in action.
YouTube has perfected guessing what content will keep its audience engaged, and is an expert at recommending good videos. Now, YouTube can’t watch all of the videos uploaded on the site to see which are good – there are far too many of them.
YouTube has to work out video quality automatically. One of the main factors YouTube uses to decide video quality is watch time. Watch time is calculated as the average time viewers spend watching a video.
Video Watch time is Important.
YouTube knows that most videos aren’t watched all the way through, but reasons that the longer viewers keep watching, the better the video must be. To succeed on YouTube, you need to keep your audience tuned into your videos for as long as possible.
So, if you were to add cards linking away from your video at the start, then you are potentially harming your video’s chance of getting an excellent watch time average. As a result, your video may be suggested less frequently by YouTube for others to watch.
Aim to add cards into your video later on, preferably in the second half of your video.
Mention the YouTube Cards in Your Video.
A second factor is that card links are not very noticeable, so for maximum effectiveness you should mention them in your video. This requires planning and scripting in advance, so approach card placement with a well thought out strategy.
Let’s take a look at how you might use each card type in your videos.
YouTube Video Card Example.
This card links to a video and displays a thumbnail. As you can see in the example below, I have added the text ‘Video Card’. The customisable text helps you to sell the link a bit more, and I’ll cover how to do this later on in this article.
The video card is commonly used to link to other content you have made. It might be a video which covers a subject in more detail that you are only mentioning briefly, or it could be the next video in a series you are making.
Alternatively, you can also link to another video on YouTube – it doesn’t have to be your content.
YouTube Playlist Card Example.
Similar to the video card but this time a collection of videos. Again, it can be any playlist and not necessarily one you have created.
So if you want to link out to your favourite music or draw attention to your own curated collection of content, the playlist card is the one you should choose.
YouTube Channel Card Example.
Sometimes it’s useful to direct a viewer to your channel page. They can access all of your content quickly, or you may be trying to grow your community tab.
An easy way to link to your channel is occasionally useful.
YouTube Link Card Example.
While the cards discussed so far are open to anyone with a YouTube account, the link card is only available to those who are part of the YouTube Partner Program. The link card permits users to link away from the YouTube site, which being outside of YouTube’s control, is only offered to established channels. It helps YouTube to cut down on link-spam.
The link card is ideal for those that have a website as a central part of their business and want to attract traffic using YouTube. With the link card, it’s easy to raise awareness and pre-sell your service in a video, then direct viewers over to your website to buy.
How To Add Cards to YouTube Videos.
You add cards to your video via YouTube Studio. Go to the main window, and from the menu on the left select ‘Videos’.
Then from the list of your videos, select the one you want to add cards to and click the edit icon.
In the video details screen towards the bottom of the page on the right, select the cards option.
This will open the window with which you assign cards to a video.
If I wanted to add a playlist to this video, the first step is to select the playlist option. In the next window, you can either choose a playlist you have created or search for any other playlist.
In this example, I’ll use one of my playlists. Simply click on the thumbnail, which returns you to the previous window to add further details.
You can set the time for the card to appear using either the timestamp or by moving the blue slider at the foot of the screen.
You can also add a Custom Message and some Teaser Text. The teaser text is the wording which displays in the info-bar in the corner of your video.
The custom message displays in the card that is shown when a viewer clicks the info-bar. Hit the save button when you are happy with the wording and timing.
To add further cards to your video (up to five maximum), open up the card’s window again and select the blue plus symbol to add another.
Simply rinse-and-repeat until you have added the cards you want.
Displaying Cards on the End Screen of YouTube Videos.
If you have ever wondered how Youtubers add thumbnails to their other content at the end of a video, this section covers how to do that. Known as an End Screen, it enables you to show links to other content and also lets you display a clickable subscribe button.
The End Screen differs from the standard cards in that you can only display them during the last 20 seconds of your video. To set your end cards, navigate to your video details page and select the ‘End screen’ menu option on the right-hand side of the screen.
The End Screens window gives some measure of customisation, but YouTube has some basic requirements. You must have at least one video or playlist card in your end screen, and the maximum number of elements you can display is four.
You can control the layout in the end screen editor, as long as the cards are arranged within the white shaded box overlaying your video.
The end screen also gives you an additional card to choose from – the subscribe card. In the picture below, you can see an end card displaying two video cards plus the subscribe card.
The end screen editor also allows you to choose the timings for your end screen elements.
You can display all elements for the full 20 seconds or only the final five seconds if you prefer. You also don’t have to show all of the cards at the same time. Once your elements are selected, you can choose appearance times by sliding the element display bar, as shown below.
End screens are a powerful tool. They give you a virtual billboard to try and keep viewers watching your content before YouTube suggests to them someone else’s content, giving you the chance to deliver a call to action during a video.
Your best chance of retaining viewer attention will come when you combine a pre-scripted suggestion with an end card. Tell a viewer which video you think they should watch next then flash up an end card linking directly to the video.
Tips for Placing Cards.
As mentioned earlier, cards should be used with a purpose in mind rather than randomly scattered throughout your content.
Verbal cues are the obvious way to draw attention to your cards, and pre-scripting these should increase in the number of times they are clicked.
Use your Analytics.
Another strategic use of cards involves using the analytics of your existing content. View the audience retention graph for one of your videos and look for the moment you are losing the most people, as they click away to find another video.
If the average viewer navigates away at this point, flashing a card on the video just before this point can help you direct some of those leaving to alternative content of yours.
Choose Custom Text Wisely.
Don’t be boring when you write the teaser text; you need to use words that give viewers an incentive to click the info bar. Use wording that communicates a benefit, something of value.
Look at the two examples below, which one would you click?
Similarly, use the custom message to reassure the viewer that the content you are promoting is relevant to them too. In the example below, the term ‘related video’ should impress in the viewer’s mind that the video will be beneficial to them.
With the number of content creators on YouTube growing every day, you need to use all the tools at your disposal to retain the viewers watching your content. Interactive cards are an excellent way to build traffic funnels and direct viewers where you want them to go.
You are not restricted to promoting only your content either. You can use cards and end screens to direct viewers to friends channels, or even some of the big Youtubers if you like. As long as the content is on YouTube, you can steer them there.
Make the best use of end screens too; never let your video end without suggesting more of your content to watch.
Once you are a member of the Partner Program, you also get the ability to link to content outside of YouTube.
This can be powerful for those whose primary business is off YouTube, and you can use YouTube as part of your sales funnel to help grow your business.
Affiliate marketing is a powerful tool that makes me a large income online and it can for you too. Need help understanding affiliate marketing then check out my affiliate marketing for beginners deep dive blog.