YouTube wants to remain your brand’s top video marketing component on the web, and proof of that comes via one of its newest, most opportunistic features to date: Associated Website Link Annotations.
While YouTube has allowed clickable annotations within videos for quite some time, those hyperlinks supported by the social video platform have been limited solely to internal links. So, if you wanted to add an annotation linking out of YouTube to, say, your brand’s official website or merchandise store, you wouldn’t be able to. But this is no longer the case.
Now, assuming your brand is already part of YouTube’s partner program (which it should be considering the program is free and highly resourceful), you’ll also need to verify that your channel(s) is the official representation of your brand on YouTube. After both of those have been done, your brand can then insert the clickable annotations to link out of YouTube and drive even more traffic to your site, or to whatever site you are pushing said traffic to.
To create Associated Website Link Annotations, navigate to your Settings in YouTube, click on “Associated website” under channel settings, and follow these steps:
- In “Video Manager,” click the down arrow next to the “Edit” button on the video you want to change, then select the annotation options.
- If this is the first time you are using external linking annotations, at the top of the menu you’ll see a banner that says, “Enable your account for external annotation links,” which refers to the syncing and verifying mentioned above. In order to use Associated Website Annotations, you will need to click the “Enable” button and accept the terms and conditions.
- Once you’ve accepted the terms and conditions, click the “Add annotation” button to create a new annotation, or select an existing annotation. Select the “Link” checkbox to add a retail URL, then select the category “Associated Website.”
- Once the associated website link has been attached and you have finished editing the annotation, select “Save” and/or “Publish.”
Sure, there are detailed community guidelines and terms of service policies that need to be followed to ensure proper use and publishing of both your brand’s videos and Associated Website Link Annotations, but in the end, this new feature helps both YouTube and its users in different but equally important ways.
The benefits of this are clear, and brands should embrace the opportunity, especially those with video-rich content to offer. If your brand has good video content but only a mediocre YouTube following, this can maximize your brand’s social outreach across YouTube. If your brand’s YouTube page is outstanding but visits to your brand’s official website or merchandise page are struggling, this can certainly help improve that.
It should also be noted that when a user clicks an annotation in a YouTube video, whether it be an external or internal link, video playback stops, which can impact watch-time metrics.
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