YouTube Shorts is Adding Shopping Features and Affiliate Marketing

YouTube Shorts is Adding Shopping Features and Affiliate Marketing

YouTube Shorts is adding affiliate marketing and the ability for users to purchase items as they scroll through Shorts, as first reported by the Financial Times and confirmed by TechCrunch.

According to the report, the long-form video giant is testing shopping features with eligible US-based creators and audiences in the US, India, Brazil, Canada, and Australia, allowing influencers to tag their products in Shorts that viewers can then purchase. An affiliate marketing program, open to select US influencers, adds yet another way for creators to monetize their Shorts, with sales split between YouTube, the creator, and the merchant. YouTube says it intends to expand tagging to more creators and countries in the future.

Confirming the development, the spokesperson for YouTube told TechCrunch in an email “We firmly believe YouTube is the best place for creators to build a business and shopping is a piece of that.”

What you should know about YouTube Shorts Shopping Features

Shopping is a hugely profitable area for ad-supported platforms, and Shorts competitors are looking to expand even further into e-commerce.

Shorts shopping features were added just days after TikTok announced similar features. TikTok began testing its long-awaited Shop program, which allows users to purchase products directly within the app, last week. TikTok has made it clear that it intends to integrate shopping into its app: before testing in the United States, the feature was available in the United Kingdom and parts of Southeast Asia. As part of its Shop program, the company appears to be planning to build fulfillment centers in the United States, with the company handling customer service, warehousing, and returns.

Affiliate programs and other shopping features could make YouTube more appealing to content creators as the company tries to compete with TikTok — and the company has indicated that it is willing to invest heavily in the effort. YouTube announced in September that it would give Shorts creators 45 percent of ad revenue, with YouTube keeping the rest.

Meta-owned Instagram allows creators to share products in live streams as well as in its shopping tab, which allows users to scroll through recommended products and make purchases. Brands can also make their profiles shoppable via product catalogs.

The news comes just a few weeks after YouTube announced that beginning next year, creators will receive a 45% cut of ad revenue. Creators will be able to apply to the company’s Partner Program in early 2023 if they reach a new Shorts-specific threshold of 1,000 subscribers and 10 million Shorts views in 90 days, after which they will receive 45% of ad revenue from their videos.