A while back when the Buy on Google program still went by the name of Google Shopping Actions, around the time that Google Express was still a thing, there were murmurs of Shopping Actions integrating with YouTube to some capacity. It was one of the main expansions in the works, but we stopped hearing about it once the program transitioned into its current form.
Since then, the world has changed quite a bit, and Google has adapted its services to better suit the needs of both shoppers and merchants. Hence the shift to the simpler and more focused program that is Buy on Google.
But people would totally buy on YouTube if they could.
As it turns out, we may be finally getting that YouTube Shopping feature after all.
YouTube and Ecommerce
It should come as no surprise that most internet users frequent YouTube. With over 2 billion monthly active users, it’s actually the biggest search engine behind its parent company’s main site, Google.
Well, just like Google — which is used by 59% of its users to research an upcoming purchase — YouTube is also one of the web’s biggest shopping destinations.
Many of the platform’s viewers use it to watch product reviews, comparisons, unboxing videos and all sorts of related content — research shows that 55% of consumers use online videos for shopping research. And the creators of that content, often involved in affiliate programs, typically link out to the products in their videos.
There’s also YouTube Merch Shelf, a feature that allows eligible channels to showcase their official merchandise on YouTube. The shelf appears on those channels’ video pages and enables creators to sell a range of official products from supported merch retailers and platforms.
We also can’t forget about YouTube’s ad capabilities. As a leader in the online ad space, Google has implemented advertising capabilities across their whole ecosystem. Creators can include ads in their videos or on their page’s summary. Looking to advertise a product or service across Google’s properties? The options are there and ever-evolving.
In many cases, shoppers on a purchase journey are just one good reason away from committing to the purchase. One good video is often all it takes.
That’s where YouTube Shopping comes in.
What is YouTube Shopping?
What we know is the program plans to interconnect a creator’s catalog with Google’s suite of shopping tools to streamline engaging with and purchasing products directly on YouTube.
YouTube has begun asking some creators to tag and track products in their videos. Viewers might soon start seeing a shopping bag icon on select video control panels. When clicked, the video's products will be available for purchase through Google Checkout.
Previously, YouTube tested a Shopify integration that didn’t go very far. The trial allowed creators to surface a limited number of relevant Shopify store products below their videos, which users could interact with and buy. That program was limited by design, but this new agnostic YouTube Shopping feature is a clear indication that YouTube wants to integrate ecommerce in a more open way.
Don’t miss out
The feature is an interesting prospect for smaller businesses, local brands, and influencers alike, especially for those interested in building a YouTube audience.
At this point it seems like it’s only a matter of time before YouTube Shopping formally launches. When it does, sellers should jump at the opportunity to sell their products on the platform. We’ll keep you posted as we find out more.
For now, you’ll want to make sure you’re optimizing your use of Google for Retail. YouTube Shopping is bound to integrate seamlessly into Google’s suite of ecommerce tools. The more refined your account and products are on Google, the easier you’ll be able to take advantage of this new feature.