YouTube launches shoppable advertising

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 23 May 2015

YouTube has rolled out an interactive shopping functionality, dubbed TrueView for Shopping, that lets advertisers overlay videos with click-to-shop functionality.

It works as you would think it would: when watching a video, viewers can click on an embedded ad to find out more information on the brand, find playlists and related videos, or click through to an e-commerce site.

"Our motivation overall is that there is a pretty big generational shift happening when it comes to videos. For the longest time, I would look at catalogues to figure out what to buy,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president for ads and commerce. "My teenage sons are much more likely to search for videos. This shopping format tends to be an extremely natural addition to how people think about buying."

Some genres of the online video brand seem perfect for this, like cooking videos, or how-to spots.

Ramaswamy said that around two-thirds of brands experience an increase of almost 13% in their Google searches when viewers watch their ad on YouTube, so why not make the process that much easier for consumers to find follow-up information?

Rakhee Jogia, regional director of Rakuten Display at Rakuten Marketing, said the move was a savvy one.

“By adding the ability to click through and buy products from its video ads, YouTube opens up a big e-commerce opportunity for v-loggers and video content publishers,” he said. “For example, influencers like Zoella could start to integrate tags to products featured that prove the number of sales their videos are driving. Particularly for fashion brands, video provides a more dynamic experience compared to a 2D image, and brands will have to use this to their advantage to drive conversions.”

That said, shoppable or not, those ads will have to be entertaining if the strategy is going to succeed. “Mobile shoppers need to be catered for too, as 65% of viewers watch video on an iPhone or Android,” he added. “If YouTube loses its entertainment factor and the ads don’t reach consumers on the right devices, then this ecommerce opportunity will fall flat.”