GOOGLE MAY TURN YOUTUBE INTO SHOP­PING DES­TI­NA­TION

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - MARK BER­GEN & LU­CAS SHAW

Ev­ery toy, gad­get and good you see on Youtube could soon be for sale on­line — not on Ama­zon, but right on Youtube it­self.

The world’s largest video site re­cently started ask­ing cre­ators to use Youtube soft­ware to tag and track prod­ucts fea­tured in their clips. The data will then be linked to an­a­lyt­ics and shop­ping tools from par­ent Google.

The goal is to con­vert Youtube’s bounty of videos into a vast cat­a­log of items that view­ers can pe­ruse, click on and buy di­rectly, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion. The com­pany is also test­ing a new in­te­gra­tion with Shopify for sell­ing items through Youtube.

A Youtube spokesper­son con­firmed the com­pany is test­ing these fea­tures with a lim­ited num­ber of video chan­nels. Cre­ators will have con­trol over the prod­ucts that are dis­played, the spokesper­son said. The com­pany de­scribed this as an ex­per­i­ment and de­clined to share more de­tails.

The moves have the po­ten­tial to trans­form Youtube from an ad­ver­tis­ing gi­ant into a new con­tender for e-com­merce lead­ers such as Ama­zon.com Inc. and Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd.

“Youtube is one of the least utilised as­sets,” said Andy Ell­wood, pres­i­dent of e-com­merce startup Bas­ket. “If they de­cided they want to in­vest in it, it’s a huge op­por­tu­nity for them.” It’s un­clear how Youtube will gen­er­ate rev­enue from these sales. The ser­vice has be­gun of­fer­ing sub­scrip­tions for cre­ators and takes a cut of 30 per cent from those pay­ments.

Al­pha­bet’s Google has taken mul­ti­ple stabs at on­line com­merce, with lim­ited suc­cess. The com­pany has mostly pre­ferred to sell ads that send peo­ple to other dig­i­tal stores, rather than sell­ing prod­ucts it­self.

How­ever, the pan­demic has ham­mered mar­ket­ing bud­gets, par­tic­u­larly in the travel and phys­i­cal re­tail sec­tors that are ma­jor Google ad­ver­tis­ers.

E-com­merce has boomed as peo­ple stay home and or­der more prod­ucts on­line. That’s left Google watch­ing from the side­lines as ri­vals such as Face­book and its In­sta­gram app be­come hot­beds of on­line shop­ping. Ama­zon, the US e-com­merce Go­liath, has seen sales soar, while Google suf­fered its first ever rev­enue de­cline in the sec­ond quar­ter.

The goal is to con­vert Youtube’s bounty of videos into a vast cat­a­log of items that view­ers can pe­ruse, click on and buy di­rectly

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