Annotation Tools

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Annotation Tools Unlocked


annotation tools

Annotation Tools are a must have requirement when your launching a new video, promoting or advertising a product, business or service. Most people head straight for the YouTube video manager, where you can add all your annotations in a matter of minutes. YT have made the tool very user friendly giving every YouTuber the chance to advertise and promote their links. Annotation tools are an essential part of any video marketing campaign, so why are annotation tools so illusive outside of YT? 


Once you have uploaded your video to YT and added your annotations you can then of course embed your video pretty much anywhere you like. Your account needs to be in good standing and you’ll need to sign up to the YT partner program. The difficulties occur when your youtube account is not centralised to one user or you are in the Google black book for various reasons. You may also not understand how to link everything to Adsense, Adwords and everything Google. It can be very, very frustrating and even when you have set up the accounts you then have to verify and upload codes through FTP etc.

Without Googles blessing and ad tools you’ll need to look for other marketing tools and ways to add links to your videos. There are of course alternatives to Adsense and Google Advertising but finding user friendly annotation tools can be very difficult. Although YT have announced that the annotation tool will be phased out soon in favour of the new cards, most people still see this tool as the best way to create clickable links in video.

You wont find many user friendly standalone annotation tools on the web, YT seem to have this corner of the market covered for now. There is no tool that really jumps out at you when searching around the web. You will find various obscure educational apps and university coded applications that seem more like puzzles rather than straight forward link transcribers. The best Mac option for Video at the moment is zeitAnker Annotation Transcriber . Their editor is packed with features such as templates and Final Cut Pro support but the whole package is over priced at nearly $300. But you can download the standalone annotations tool on its own and at the moment they have an introductory price of just under $30. 

Tools will usually offer the following types of Annotations: 

  • Speech bubble pop-up text, which is linkable.
  • Spotlight highlight text area, which is linkable.
  • Note pop-up box, also linkable.
  • Title and text overlay.
  • Label or call out.

The use of annotations needs to unobtrusive yet standout. How many times has a video you wanted to watch been totally covered with links? Personally I find them annoying but if used correctly can add interaction to your videos without being an annoyance to the viewer.  

The first tip is to have transparent backgrounds with clear visible text. Block coloured banners will block out the video and generally viewers will click away. Let your viewers know what’s coming next from the start. Show related links and suggest other videos in a sidebar style of subtle transparent banners. By using learn more links to your website or blog your helping your viewer get the relevant information they are looking for. Take your viewer to your opt-in or subscribe page. Ask questions and give options. And if you are going to use a lot of annotations then use a tracking code with your website url and follow clicks to help you scale up and monetize successfully. 

You can also use a free service like Statcounter who will provide a full service of marketing tools with daily or weekly notifications. The best tool and my recommendation here is Mautic which is a wonderful free and Open Source standalone marketing analytics platform. You can download and use on your home computer totally free of charge.

Most annotation tools are bundled in with other video marketing tools and usually part of a marketing platform. You will also be charged a monthly fee but some have very good free plans. You’ll find some standalone tools listed below, along with some of the best video platforms with integrated annotation tools: 

Vidzor is a HTML 5 video linking tool with annotations and chaptering.

Zeitanker is a standalone annotation tool for Mac. (download a copy while the price is low)

Anvil is a free standalone multi-layered Video annotations tool. I have just downloaded Anvil so I will report back with a review about this tool on a later post.

CamStudio has a screen and video annotations tool and is a very popular option.

ClickVid player allows you to create clickable hotspots in your video.

Zaption is a great online tool and will turn your videos into an interactive learning experience.

Annotation Tools
Zaption Interactive Video

Wistia marketing service have an annotations tool and many other essential video tools, plus the best free option for uploading your videos to their platform. 

TechSmith have an annotations tool included with their video tool Snagit and Camtasia.

FrameBench is a visual communications tool with annotations for video and is also recommended. 

ink2Go is an annotations tool for video and documents.

YouScreenIt has an annotations tool which you can also get with the free version.

Ant organise and annotate your videos with an invite. As a guest you will only be allowed to get links to Ant that you create. 

GitHub tool for copying video annotations and freely available for download. I haven’t tried this yet but it is certainly a money spinning option. 

Viewbix also has annotations tools bundled into their service. 

Educanon is an interactive video tool for learning similar to Zaption.

Embedded Code Generator is a HTML5 code embedder and certainly worth experimenting with.


Two other tools worth a mention here are both WordPress plugins. JackJacker is a simple free tool that allows you to add banners and links into your video.

Another very similar tool which you can get for a small payment is PopVid which also let you add links, call to action buttons and banners onto any video.

Having used both I can tell you that they are certainly powerful tools. The only downside is that I have found them a little unreliable and problematic. Once you have added your links to the videos I found that they will not play correctly or will not post correctly. Certainly take a look and try them out and I would love to know how you get on with them. Plus which annotation tools do you recommend using outside of YT?

If you would like a full listing of available annotation tools in a downloadable PDF format, then leave your details and comments below and I will send you a download link.




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