A report from Bloomberg indicates Google is in the early stages of transforming YouTube into a shopping site.
This would enable consumers to directly purchase items they see in product review videos, unboxing videos, tutorials, and so on.
YouTube is already a shopping destination of sorts, as 55% of consumers use videos to make purchase decisions.
However, when consumers decide to purchase a product after watching a video, they have to go to another site to place the order.
Google wants to make it so users can directly buy the products they see in videos without leaving YouTube.
Bloomberg reports Google is already making moves to turn this plan into a reality by gathering information about products featured in videos.
To collect this information, YouTube creators are being asked to tag and track products shown in their clips.
The end goal is to turn YouTube’s video library into a product catalog where users can click on items they see and buy them directly.
A YouTube spokesperson confirms to Bloomberg that product tagging features are being tested with a limited number of channels.
According to the spokesperson, creators will have control over which products are tagged in their videos.
It’s noted that the YouTube spokesperson referred to this project as an “experiment.”
Google is also in the process of testing an integration with Shopify to sell products through YouTube.
Bloomberg credits “people familiar with the situation” with providing the information.
It’s not clear how Google will make money from this endeavour. Presumably Google will make a percentage off of each transaction.
The amount of consumer data Google is likely to gather is also valuable for advertising purposes.
There’s no mention in the report of whether there’s a financial incentive for creators to tag the products in their videos.
On one hand, this can open up another revenue stream for YouTubers if they make a commission when viewers buy tagged products.
On the other hand, it could compromise the authenticity of creators’ content if they’re suddenly making money from products they feature.
Hopefully YouTube finds a solution that benefits creators while also not swaying the direction of their content.
YouTube + Shopping = An Ideal Match?
This is not the first time Google has tried to integrate shopping features into YouTube.
Last year, YouTube partnered with Merchbar to sell official YouTuber merchandise underneath videos.
This offered a way for YouTube creators to promote their merchandise, but transactions still had to be completed on Merchbar’s site.
Also last year, Google rolled out Shopping Actions in YouTube. This feature assists viewers with buying products shown in videos, but it’s still necessary to visit another site to complete the transaction.
To date, Google has not offered a way for consumers to buy products directly on YouTube. Although there are many signs indicating that’s the direction the company is headed in.
In an earnings call earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai specifically commented on the potential of shopping on YouTube.
“When you think about things like unboxing and product reviews, those are a natural home for transactions as well.”
We’ll see how natural a fit this ends up being. Perhaps this feature could make an appearance in time for holiday shopping?