Google is in the early stages of creating a new shopping experience on video through its wildly popular YouTube site. A new beta feature released just before the holiday season is being adopted by brands, particularly fashion and retail, to drive in-stream sales.
Shoppable video is still in its infancy, but trends in online behavior and new shopping patterns are leading to a greater focus on the medium. Marketers have always had an eye out for sales through video content, but the path has largely been elusive. Google wants to change that by embedding clickable ads into products displayed on videos. The goal, of course, is to improve the online shopping experience without overwhelming YouTube videos with ads.
“With YouTube external annotations, we’re trying to make it a very seamless process,” said Lisa Green, industry director at Google. “If while you’re watching it, you see something you really want, you can click… We’ve allowed the user to make the decision to make the purchase” in the video.
The beta feature is available to all existing clients, although Google won’t disclose how many advertisers have shown interest or signed up thus far. Juicy Couture, one of the first brands to adopt the shoppable feature, released a new video directed by Terry Richardson featuring Candice Swanepoel at the famed Chateau Marmont hotel. The fashion label features nineteen different products in this video:
If you click on anything in that video, the video stops dead in its tracks while another page loads, taking you to a place where you can buy the item. And if you’re interested in the products being advertised in the video, you’re probably not paying much attention to what’s going on in the video.
What YouTube is likely going to have to do with this is start figuring out how to get into Popcorn-type technology for their site. Target recently produced a three-episode romantic comedy series where you could watch the story, but the items for sale would show up on an unobtrusive side bar:
The New Challenge?
That will be the big challenge for YouTube as they move forward with brands and trying to make videos more interactive. Because, obviously, putting a whole bunch of stuff in the video that covers the content will turn viewers away. No doubt we’ll be seeing some creative uses of these shoppable videos in the next year, and probably even more changes from YouTube facilitating brands’ ability to show videos without too much interruption.