A report from Bloomberg shows that Google is in the early stages of converting YouTube into a shopping site.
This would allow consumers to directly purchase items they see in product review videos, unboxing videos, tutorials, etc.
YouTube is already a kind of shopping destination as 55% of consumers use video to make buying decisions.
However, if consumers decide to purchase a product after watching a video, they will have to go to another website to place the order.
Google wants to design it so that users can buy the products they see in videos right away without leaving YouTube.
Bloomberg reports that Google is already taking steps to make this plan a reality by gathering information about products in videos.
To collect this information, YouTube creators are asked to tag and track the products featured in their clips.
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The end goal is to convert YouTube’s video library into a product catalog where users can click on the items displayed and purchase them directly.
A YouTube spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg that product labeling features will be tested with a limited number of channels.
According to the spokesman, the developers have control over which products are tagged in their videos.
It should be noted that the YouTube spokesperson has called this project an “experiment”.
Google is currently testing an integration with Shopify to sell products on YouTube.
Bloomberg credits “people familiar with the situation” for providing the information.
It’s not clear how Google will make money on this venture. Presumably, Google will make a percentage of every transaction.
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The amount of consumer data that Google is likely to collect is also valuable for advertising purposes.
The report doesn’t mention whether there is any financial incentive for developers to tag the products in their videos.
On the one hand, this can open up another source of income for YouTubers if they pay a commission on the purchase of products with tags.
On the other hand, this could compromise the authenticity of the developers’ content if they suddenly start making money from the products they offer.
Hopefully YouTube will find a solution that will benefit developers without affecting the direction of their content.
YouTube + Shopping = An ideal game?
This isn’t the first time Google has tried to incorporate shopping functionality into YouTube.
Last year, YouTube partnered with Merchbar to sell official YouTuber merchandise under Videos.
This gave YouTube creators a chance to advertise their goods, but the transactions on the Merchbar website had yet to be completed.
Google also launched shopping campaigns on YouTube last year. This function helps viewers to purchase products that are shown in videos. However, you will still need to visit another website to complete the transaction.
So far, Google has not offered consumers the opportunity to buy products directly on YouTube. Although there are many signs of the direction the company is headed.
In a call for earnings earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explicitly commented on the purchasing potential on YouTube.
“When you think of things like unboxing and product reviews, these are natural homes for transactions too.”
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We shall see how naturally this fits. Perhaps this feature could appear in time for shopping on vacation?