YouTube today revealed that it will begin testing and rolling out a feature that opens up a new revenue stream for its content creators — and more opportunities for advertisers.
In a speech during Advertising Week, YouTube chief executive officer Susan Wojcicki said that YouTube is opening up shopping ads to any YouTube video, which will allow viewers to shop directly from videos whose creators have opted in — like a QVC for the vlogger generation.
When a video is enabled with a shopping ad, an icon appears with related “cards.” When the viewer clicks on the icon, they’ll be able to scroll through images and pricing info of products featured in the video. To purchase, viewers click the image to be taken to the retailer’s Web site to learn more, read reviews or click to buy.
People are increasingly turning to video to inform their shopping decisions, and this update is part of YouTube’s goal of making videos more interactive and shortening the distance between the time a viewer sees an ad and their actual purchase. (Often, vloggers include purchasing links below videos.) According to a Google Consumer Survey, one in five 18- to 24-year-olds say they go to YouTube to find out “what’s cool to purchase.” There has been more than 40 percent growth in viewership of product videos on YouTube in the past year.
Although Google-owned YouTube has previously allowed retailers to have shoppable videos on YouTube, this means that any creator who creates videos (think beauty tutorials or gadget reviews) can “opt in” to have related ads appear in the corner of their videos, and generate revenue from viewers who click on the ads.
The ads will look like shopping ads already visible on Google searches, and similar to those, advertisers only pay when a user clicks on the ad. To opt in, retailers need to connect their existing Merchant Feed. Shopping ads on YouTube are selected based on signals like contextual and audience relevancy.
For the estimated one million or more existing channels on YouTube that offer product reviews, opting in and enabling relevant ads should be simple, as vloggers already tag videos with relevant key words. However, only brands that have participated in Google AdWords will show up.
The first countries to see these changes will be the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and India. Shoppable videos begin testing this fall, and will be available for advertisers in AdWords in the coming months.