In context: YouTube is already a heavily commercialized platform. It’s full of ads, sponsorships, and brand deals, all of which are understandable monetization measures that help keep the platform free for everyone. However, it seems Google isn’t satisfied with YouTube’s current revenue generation systems: it is reportedly planning to implement shopping tools into the site as well.
The exact structure and design of YouTube’s planned e-commerce features are not known at this point, but Bloomberg claims the site’s goal is to “convert [its] bounty of videos into a vast catalog of items that viewers can peruse, click on, and buy directly.”
YouTube’s management team has recently begun to ask its creators to specify which products they’re showing off in their videos. Products they “tag” in this way could be featured for purchase on their channels, though it’s unclear whether or not they will receive a cut of the revenue earned through this on-site shopping system.
Though Bloomberg’s information comes from anonymous sources, YouTube did confirm the report in part. The site says it is indeed testing e-commerce features with a “limited number” of channels, but it did not offer any further details. If we were to speculate, we’d guess that only larger channels have access to the feature for now.
It remains to be seen how well this feature will work if it is scaled up. We wouldn’t be surprised if viewers, and perhaps even creators take issue with additional commercialization, especially if the latter group is unable to opt-out. We’ll be reaching out to YouTube for clarification on this news, and will update this article if we receive a response.