Update: Youtube has not begun to test this feature. They updated their Features and Experiments page to reflect the following:
[January 14, 2021] Testing a new way to shop on YouTube: We’re testing a new way for people to easily discover and purchase products featured in YouTube videos. Creators in this pilot can add certain products to their videos. Viewers can then see a list of featured products by clicking the shopping bag icon on the bottom left corner of the video. From there, viewers can explore each product’s page to see more information, related videos, and purchase options for that product. We are currently piloting this feature with a limited number of creators. It is visible to users in the US on iOS, Android, and desktop.
According to a Bloomberg report, Youtube could be gearing up to double up its service as a shopping juggernaut. Being the second largest search engine in the world with about 5 billion hours of videos watched per day, the popular video platform is home to product reviews, unboxing videos and so much more. Youtube creators have recently been asked to tag their videos that contain products and to link that data back to Google through some sort of shopping analytics tool.
A YouTube spokesperson confirmed the company is testing these features with a limited number of video channels. Creators will have control over the products that are displayed, the spokesperson said. The company described this as an experiment and declined to share more details.Bloomberg
If this works out, Youtube could become a premiere destination for shopping in a way that rivals Amazon. Controversial, I know, but if they marry this with their Google Shopping efforts, which have notoriously failed several times in the past, they could have something here. Video is becoming a dominant medium during these last few years. Most people would prefer to watch something in order to extract the information they need rather than to read it. We are visual creatures by nature and video is a natural evolution of that. Youtube tried something like this in the past, only in reverse. They placed Google Shopping ads in the mobile web version of their home screen in 2019. Being that it’s not really a thing anymore so far as I could find, I would wager this was unsuccessful. Doing things the other way around makes a whole lot more sense.
I think that Google may leverage some sort of deal with creators. Let’s say for example you advertise something from Wayfair in your video – they will most likely ask for a percentage cut. We’re all overly familiar with influencer marketing and how companies will create affiliate partnerships with Youtubers to have them do their work on their behalf. Skillshare is no stranger to this approach. It feels like every Youtube video I watch has a Skillshare ad in it. If Google began to build out in-platform services, they could act as a middle man and get a slice of that pie.
CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, recently stated on an earnings call that Youtube’s massive store house of “unboxing” videos could be turned into a shopping opportunity. If Youtube is successful in this latest endeavor, they could beat out Amazon and Walmart who have been trying unsuccessfully to make videos a purchasing destination for quite some time. My hope is that Google takes their time with this and gets it right. Google Shopping – I mean, Google Express – I mean, Google Shopping again, has had a ton of re-branding and back and forth in the last few years and I still don’t use it. The one time that I tried to, half of my order was lost with no refund or customer service to speak to on the matter. Unless you shop all of your items from the same store or reach a minimum from each store, you are charged a ton of extra fees. We’re hoping to hear more about this soon and will keep you up to date.