On Friday, YouTube released a video featuring Dror Shimshowitz, the Head of Product for Creators and Curators.  Among some of the changes that were announced in this video were Merch Annotations, in which you can sell your merchandise (and only your merchandise) through annotated links rather than the Merch Store, also In-Video Programming, which we touched on recently, and Associated Website Annotations, which will allow creators to link to their own website from annotations in the video, rather than having people search for a link somewhere in the description.

Off-Site Annotation Linking w/ Associated Website Annotations

Dror talks about the new feature in this video, which is cued to the 3:53 mark:

As of now, channels in good standing can link to their website through their channel (associated website), and a handy link sits on the channel page or description of the video.  This means that if you really want someone to go visit your site, you hope they remember to go look for the link, or even want to find the link.  With associated website annotations, creators can give a live link to the website in the video, which makes it easier for the viewer to find and is more likely to be clicked.

Now, this is a pilot, it's not an official launch, but should it prove successful in this phase they are going to make this a regular feature.  Also, they hope to make it where creators can link to multiple websites in the future.

This is good news for those who run a website where you might run contests, sell merchandise, interact with fans, or anything where you are not constrained by certain rules of YouTube.  And when this launches, it will be very easy for viewers to visit a creator's website on demand.

  • putting4par

    Looks like YouTube has killed this function. Apparently, they really didn't like anyone leaving their website. Big surprise there.

    • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

      Why do you say they are killing it? It still works for me and is still an option for me.

      • putting4par

        I have the associated annotation feature working on a couple of existing channels. However, on channels where I didn't get all the verifications done a couple of weeks ago, it's no longer an option. The associated website text no longer even appears as a choice. If you are able to make it work on a new channel, I'd love to hear how you were able to get this accomplished. Having that live link in the video going straight to my websites increases conversions in a big way.

        • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

          Where you say it is missing... can you go to the YT Settings, then look at the 'Channel settings' FEATURES area. Is that option no longer a choice?

  • Craig Smith

    That would be great if we could have people click on an element within a video to then be sent to our site.

  • Bill Knight

    Wow! Can't wait for this new feature, it's going to ROCK the internet BIG time!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.naydeck Mike Naydeck

    I am really excited about this addition to YouTube. It is going to fantastic for those of us who use YouTube as a main marketing funnel. While we have always been able to link to our site using the Call To Action banners this is yet another way to drive people to our sales site.
    The ability to feature a video across your entire channel is going to be an incredibly powerful tool for getting eyes on a specific video or driving a specific message to the consumer quickly.
    I am very curious how this is going to translate on YouTube imbedded video on other sites.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.fisher.37 Ken Fisher

    “This feature is only to be used to sell your own branded merchandise.”

    That rules out a huge number of possibilities in the interim. But hopefully that will change as perhaps it will have more to do with your "channel standing." Approval of your actual website content/design etc? I think they're moving forward with this carefully, unlike the adsense debacle that flooded the web with a huge cesspool of content. Nice to see them looking at controlling it rather than letting it go WILD.
    Links to Facebook Twitter? Ain’t gonna happen IMO, unless they strike a deal with them or own them.

    Agee Ronnie...sooo much potential

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      where is it that you see that quote? That is true for merchant annotations, yes - but they're presenting this as being different.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ken.fisher.37 Ken Fisher

        It's mentioned in the video...@ 3:10

        • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

          That quote applies ONLY to the Merch store links, not to the Associated Website Links. They talk about many things in this video. My focus is on the Associated Website Links which IMO are the game changer in the entire discussion here... no rules except those laid out for 'YouTube External Links' are involved... here's the link you get to agree to as part of the set-up process: http://www.youtube.com/t/advertising_policies

        • http://www.facebook.com/ken.fisher.37 Ken Fisher

          Thanks Ronnie. Lottsa stuff to dig into

  • http://twitter.com/IHutchinson Ian Hutchinson

    There is an inherent conflict of interest here. It is in YouTube's (Google) best interest to keep visitors on YouTube.com. It comes down to the future value of ad revenue of the visitor vs the value it is to drive a visitor to your site.

    Google will always weigh this trade off before allowing individuals to leave YouTube to your domain. You will pay for it by either:

    1. Producing content YouTube wants.
    2. Buying the traffic flow.

    • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

      The sentiment behind your comment is why many of us are surprised that YT is piloting this idea of off-site annotation links. But they said they would do it/allow it... time will tell how/if it comes to pass. I'm looking forward to using it ASAP!

      • http://twitter.com/IHutchinson Ian Hutchinson

        I figured I would circle back on this - have you seen any good use cases? As far as I can tell it is limited to YouTube partners?

        • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

          Anyone/everyone is a partner now-a-days... so anyone can have the link to their website if their YouTube account is in good standing.

  • Justin Lauschin

    Only thing left for them to do is allow annotations to linked social sites on the account (facebook, twitter, etc). Step in the right direction :)

    • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

      we've already got annotation links to social... Google Plus... the article is right here on ReelSEO...http://www.reelseo.com/link-google-youtube-annotations/

      • Justin Lauschin

        Yep, I know there are Google+ annotations. I was being more specific to Facebook and Twitter.

        • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

          got it... I guess I was addressing the 'etc.' portion of your comment! ㋡

        • Justin Lauschin

          Of course, since owned domains can be forwarded, guess people will likely use the forwarding feature to send a domain wherever they want, including facebook or twitter profiles (or worse, spam/affiliate sites)...

        • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

          Unlikely... if you have been following the Google Author Rank developments, you'll see that the big G is doing what it can to verify content and tie it to an Author. The Associated Website, if it simply did a re-direct as you are suggesting here, would likely not get 'approved' for this usage by GooTubePlus.

  • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

    I don't care about follow/no-follow value of a link... The main point here is that you can get people OFF your YouTube video and ONTO your site! That is HUGE!!!

    We've been waiting for something like this for YEARS! So much value here it is crazy. I can make this totally rock for so many different client's needs. I wonder if we can only point to the home page or if we can get more specific when this comes out... time will tell.

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson


  • allhailskippy

    I like that it can be done, but would have preferred if if they had also given the option to add a non-global one as well. And since they are using the annotations system, there really doesn't seem any reason to me to not have included it.

  • http://hombrelobo.com/ hombrelobo

    If only that link would be a "nofollow" ... if only ...

    • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.ashcroft.3388 Sarah Ashcroft

      Idiot.. it is going to be...