You Could Soon Be Able to Shop Directly From YouTube Videos

YouTube is the latest platform to make a play for their audience’s shopping dollars.

The video streaming service is testing a feature that would put links to recommended products under videos, according to a new report from The Information. The links would direct users to product pages on Google Express, the company’s e-commerce platform, which the report says will soon be renamed Google Shopping (it was rebranded from “Google Express Shopping” in 2014).

The news comes in advance of YouTube’s parent company’s advertising and marketing event, Google Marketing Live, which is scheduled to take place May 14.

According to the e-commerce research firm Marketplace Pulse, Google has been aggressively onboarding merchants to its shopping platform, growing the total from 50 to 1,300 in the past year, though Walmart — once its biggest retailer by product visits — confirmed in January that it had exited the partnership, likely to focus on its own digital efforts.

The move likely signals a push to compete with Amazon, which is gaining traction as a search engine (more than half of all product searches now begin with the e-commerce giant, according to the analytics firm Jumpshot) while simultaneously ramping up its ad sales business. Google and Facebook currently dominate the latter field, accounting for 37.1% and 20.6% of digital ad dollars, respectively, but Amazon recently pulled into third place at 4.1%, surging past Microsoft — which owns LinkedIn — and Verizon subsidiary Oath, which owns AOL and Yahoo.

Between 2017 and 2018, U.S. advertisers increased their Amazon spend by 144.5 percent to a total of $4.61 billion, according to digital marketing research firm eMarketer.

YouTube has allowed advertisers to create shoppable ads in the past, but this latest feature would be the first to emphasize Google’s marketplace. Nike is reportedly one of the first retailers involved in the video test run, while other merchants on Google Express include Target and Sneakerexperts.

Last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that the platform now has 2 billion monthly unique users globally, and every day, they watch more than a billion hours of videos.

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