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January 28, 2021

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YouTube Launches Next Phase of Program to Tag Items Within Video Clips

3 min read

Last October, Bloomberg reported that YouTube had begun working on a new process which would enable creators to tag products displayed in their video clips, and provide direct shopping options, facilitating broader eCommerce opportunities in the app.

Now, YouTube has moved to the next stage of testing – as reported by Android Police, YouTube has now launched a live test of its product tags with selected creators.

As per YouTube:

“We’re testing a new way for people to easily discover and purchase products featured in YouTube videos. Creators in this pilot can add certain products to their videos. Viewers can then see a list of featured products by clicking the shopping bag icon on the bottom left corner of the video. From there, viewers can explore each product’s page to see more information, related videos, and purchase options for that product.” 

YouTube says that it’s currently piloting the program with a limited number of creators, with the new tags visible to users in the US on iOS, Android, and desktop.

It’s a logical step, especially considering the broader shift towards eCommerce, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, some analysts believe that the pandemic has accelerated the growth of eCommerce by five years, pushing brands into a new era of digital consumption, while Facebook recently published research which showed that an increasing number of consumers are now looking to shop via video content, with live video, in particular, providing new perspective. 

That means both platforms and retailers will need to act fast to latch onto the rising wave, and with Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat all working to add in advanced eCommerce tools linked into their video clips and tools, the expectation will soon be that all social media content will be ‘shoppable’, with easy links from every image and clip that enable the purchase of any item displayed.

YouTube’s parent company Google has actually been working on this functionality for years – back in 2017, Google showcased its Cloud Video Intelligence API, which is able to identify objects within video content.

Google video item tags

That has applications for search more generally, but as the technology evolves, it will also be able to automatically identify items, including individual product matches, which will provide more opportunity for direct eCommerce connection.

Pinterest, too, is developing similar, with its Product Tags providing more ways for brands to showcase their items within Pins, and its Lens tool able to showcase similar items based on those displayed in an image.

Pinterest shop update

Advancing that into video is a more significant undertaking, but Google’s evolving tools will likely put YouTube at the forefront of this next shift. Which, in conjunction with YouTube’s billions of uploaded clips, could provide huge opportunity for expanded eCommerce connection on the platform. 

As noted, it’s a logical expansion of YouTube’s capacity, with the platform already adding in eCommerce product listings and tools like AR Try-On ads

Pretty soon, the whole web will be shoppable, and everything that you see, in any upload, will be available for purchase, within just a few clicks. 


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