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BizReport : Advertising : January 26, 2021

How YouTube's new direct-selling feature may impact merchants

Content creators may soon be the new direct sellers. That, if a new feature currently being tested by YouTube catches on and proves to be lucrative to merchants, brands, and content creators.

by Kristina Knight

A new feature unveiled on YouTube may change the way merchants and influencers engage with viewers in the digital space. The new service allows content creators to highlight and sell certain products from their videos by adding a shopping bag icon on the screen. Prior to this creators could only link to products in their description boxes.

"Joining the likes of Pinterest and Instagram, it shouldn't come as a surprise that YouTube is the latest social media platform to make its way into in-app shopping experiences. Video is an increasingly relevant medium for consumers, influencers and brands, and the new initiative could eventually allow consumers to make purchases directly from YouTube videos," said Marcel Hollerbach, CEO, Productsup. "YouTube is a well-known platform with a steady viewership base that caters to thousands of niche interests and hobbies from cooking videos to gaming videos to arts and crafts videos. While TikTok and Instagram host short-form content, YouTube is known for its full, long-form style of videos and even product reviews. This presents a unique opportunity for retailers looking to sell their products on YouTube as this could add an entirely new dimension to e-commerce and even alter how consumers search and learn about products before making a purchase online."

YouTube is only the latest social network to add direct ecommerce options. Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp added social shopping features a few years ago to varying degrees of success, and Google began adding shopping ads under YouTube videos in 2015. This new feature could be a game-changer, though, especially for influencers and brands that have highly engaged audiences. The key, as with any new marketing feature, is for brands to test how to add this type of content into their feeds without making the audience feel inundated with ad type content.

"For brands aiming to sell on YouTube, it's important for them to test what type of product data works best for engaging users on the platform. For example, they should experiment with using product descriptions that match YouTube's style to help develop a more authentic, personal relationship between the brand and consumer," said Hollerbach.

Tags: advertising, direct selling, ecommerce, Productsup, shoppable content, viral marketing, YouTube

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