YouTube Annotations

YouTube Annotations: A Tool for Social Commerce in South Africa

It’s that time of the year when shopping for Christmas gifts becomes top priority. While most of us dread the lengthy queues at malls, some of us, well around 3.6 million of us in South Africa, turn to the variety of online stores to find those deals that put a smile on our loved ones’ faces.

This got me thinking about the key considerations when deciding to purchase products online. According to a recent study produced by Google & TNS, South Africans are most influenced by price comparison websites (23%), branded websites (22%), Social Media (10%), and Video (11%), while the remaining 34% use one or more of these tools.

What’s interesting to note here is the use of video when making purchasing decisions and the fact that most local retailers have not explored this channel in greater detail. Myer, a leading Australian retailer has used YouTube to promote a wide variety of products from menswear, makeup, men style tips and more recently Christmas toys for girls and boys.




YouTube in South Africa

YouTube is growing in South Africa with 90 million views per month, 7.5 million hours watched per month and a user base of just over 4.1 million. 30% of this audience is consuming this video content on their mobile and according to a recent study produced by MasterCard SA, 12% of online purchases are made via a mobile device.

These stats start to paint an interesting picture for eCommerce stores as they compete for sales and opportunities to influence purchase consideration. According to a study by Ivodo and the e-tailing group, 50% of online shoppers are more confident about purchase decisions after viewing a product video. This same research revealed that when online shoppers watch a product video multiple times, 75% of them land up purchasing the product.


The Opportunity

Google has made significant changes to YouTube in an attempt to make the experience more interactive. These changes are a dream come true for online stores and come in the form of Annotations. These Annotations allow e-commerce stores to embed links into the video that deep link to specific product pages. There are six types of Annotations available:

  • Speech Bubble: an on screen overlay which appears at a specific time
  • Notes: This is similar to a speech bubble but is best used when linking to another video or channel
  • Titles: Used if you did not have an opening frame but these are not linkable
  • Spotlight: A frame used over a specific image you want the viewer to focus on.
  • Pause Annotations: This allows users to pause the video and read text that could be found on other annotations like notes.
  • Label Annotation (that can be seen in the first image below): A colored label that links to pages off of Youtube.

For example, Asos uses a label annotation to promote music by Alex Blaxx with a link directly to Sound Cloud:



And Juicy Couture uses a spotlight to highlight the pink handbag available at Juicy Couture with a link directly back to the product page:



For e-commerce brands considering creating videos to boost sales, there are a few items to think about before you try it.

1) Establish a digital strategy:report by comScore stated that professionally produced e-commerce videos outperformed user generated videos by 30%. In layman’s terms: don’t try this at home, consult your advertising agency and build video into the greater digital strategy.

2) Create good content: Make sure that the video is good quality and that it has both rational and emotional appeal.

3) Allocate budget for advertising: To get the most out of your new sales tool put advertising behind it to get the scale it needs. You can also upload it on your other social media platforms such as Facebook and Vimeo, if it fits with your overall message.