It has been reported that YouTube (owned by Google) is testing a feature that will enable viewers of YouTube videos to directly purchase products that they see featured in the video they are watching.
The idea was originally announced as far back May 2015 when YouTube announced that it had introduced "shoppable cards" within videos called “TrueView” for brands to sell products directly to individuals. The feature was designed to allow a person to make an impulse purchase of something they saw in a YouTube video.
Fast-forward a bit further to May 2019, and as part of a re-vamp of Google Shopping, Google announced that people would have the chance to buy products shown on YouTube videos i.e. purchase the items featured in the videos.
The latest reports appear to have emerged via Bloomberg which reported that YouTube had been asking creators to tag and track the products used in their videos. It is understood that the data is being sent to Google to help improve its analytics, to shopping tools on YouTube, and possibly being used to contribute to a future integration with Shopify, which is a competitor to Amazon. Shopify is a (Canadian) e-commerce, online platform with more than 1 million merchants globally who use Shopify’s technology for their own independent, decentralised stores.
Bloomberg also reports that a YouTube spokesperson has confirmed that the feature is being tested with some YouTube video channels, and that creators can decide which products appear as being available for sale.
Back in April, as a way that to remind users of the value and scope of its suite of business services, YouTube announced the launch of its (beta) Video Builder, a free tool that enables businesses to easily make short video adverts. YouTube said that the new tool would be of value because businesses of all sizes have limited time and resources and that in-person video shoots “are no longer practical in many countries”. The YouTube Video Builder was also introduced with brands or agencies in mind who may want to experiment and create supplemental, lightweight videos, and to smaller businesses and businesses with less creative experience, who need an efficient, low-resource way to create videos. YouTube suggested that the completed videos could be used for advertising campaigns, on websites or in emails.
As demonstrated by YouTube influencers, the engaging power of video can make it a potent sales tool and Google’s YouTube is the leading video platform. Having the power to catch and direct customers straight to a sale when they are at their most engaged and enthused with a product is likely to be a tool that many marketers and businesses would really value and want. Introducing this feature would see YouTube moving into shopping and competing directly with Amazon. An integration with Shopify would also be another competitive move against Amazon.
Google has clearly augmented its platforms with more features recently, and the addition of this feature would help Google to attract more marketers to YouTube and to leverage its store of user data and business relationships to help those marketers reach the right audiences and generate sales through a new, direct route.