Google is now letting businesses use YouTube to sell products. Businesses have been using YouTube to market products almost as long as YouTube has been around (at least since businesses figured it out that it could be about more than cat videos), and for quite some time, businesses have been able to advertise through clickable ads inside of YouTube videos.
Now, Google is taking the YouTube ecommerce thing to a whole new level by essentially letting users shop for products right through the business' YouTube channel.
"Every day, millions of people turn to YouTube for advice, from learning how to do the perfect smokey eye to trying out a new recipe for mashed potatoes," says Danielle Tomassini from the Google Shopper team. "People are using YouTube not just for entertainment, but to learn a new skill, find more information, and shop for products. This presents a unique opportunity for consumer goods brands to reach shoppers in the moment and provide them with an easy way to go from watching a video to purchasing the product."
The new offering comes in the form of a new channel gadget, and lets users shop for products from various retailers from the comfort of the YouTube channel they're already browsing.
"This new channel gadget will enable shoppers to seamlessly move from browsing how-to videos and featured products to finding which retailers carry them, check availability, compare prices and make a purchase, all with fewer clicks than today," says Tomassini.
Google has launched the gadget with Unilever to highlight hair products from TRESemmé.
"There is a growing interest for 'hair how to' videos on YouTube with millions of users going to YouTube to learn about hairstyles and hair care," says Tomassini. "By providing hair tutorial videos, tips and tricks, and interviews with trendsetters, TRESemmé has already generated more than 2.7 million views on their channel. Through their newly designed channel, TRESemmé can also now connect these consumers with the products they’re watching in the demo videos in a faster more efficient way, shortening the shopping journey."
You can see the feature in action at the TRESemmé YouTube channel.
As you can see, this includes not only a "Buy Now" button, but product reviews and a "Learn More" button, which enables the business to share details about the product, to hopefully help convince customers to buy it:
When the user clicks "Buy Now," they're presented with the option to select the products they want to purchase. While TRESemmé only has a single product highlighted here, one can only assume that businesses can include more. It's unclear what the limit on this might be.
From there, users can comparison shop from stores that have the product available, and see if it is in stock. When they click on one of the stores, they're taken to the product page on that store's site.
It's interesting that Google isn't tying this into Google Shopping (otherwise, you wouldn't be seeing Amazon there). That doesn't mean they won't in the future.
Google is actually offering the gadget as a premium offering for its consumer goods clients, produced through GloTo.
So far, Google isn't making it incredibly easy to just go and set one of these channels up. Right now, you have to speak with a Google representative to determine "if the shopper channels is the right solution for your brand".
The feature could play a major role in turning YouTube into a major driver of ecommerce. However, there are some things greatly holding it back. One is the aforementioned lack of Google Shopping integration, but another major factor is that it requires users to actually be on a channel page. How much YouTube viewing do you do from the channel page? If your'e like me, probably not a whole lot.
People consumer videos from their YouTube homepage stream, when they're shared via social media, and when they're embedded on other web pages. None of these scenarios will cater to sales through this new feature (unless ads pointing to to the channel as the landing page are placed within the videos).
But this could just be a starting point, and could grow into something much bigger.