YouTube’s pioneering technology trial

By Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO of TAKUMI.

YouTube has recently announced that it will be trialing a new technology that can detect items shown in videos and generate a list of related products for consumers to buy. Automated suggestions will appear as viewers scroll on the platform.

The technology will allow users to identify products that appear in the video and search for related content on the video site. With a ‘top-10 smartphones in 2020’ video, for example, some viewers will see an icon on the video, along with more information below, listing the phone models included in the video. From there, viewers can explore each product’s page to see more information, related videos, and purchase options for that product.

The feature is currently being tested on some users in the US only.

However, experts say it could bring “huge” change to the advertising industry and could be rolled out more widely if the trials are successful. “We are experimenting with a new feature that displays a list of products detected in some videos, as well as related products,” YouTube said. Their goal is to help people explore more videos and information about those products on YouTube.

The potential impact of the new introduction

The introduction of this new technology to YouTube could be an industry gamechanger. Core to YouTube’s success is its tutorials and reviews content, which are incredibly popular ways for consumer to engage with the platform and find out more information about a product before buying. If successful, the technology would remove some of the barriers to online shopping on YouTube, by creating easy-to-navigate and highly targeted purchasing options for an already engaged audience.

The technology could also be highly significant for influencers too, as their in-video product promotions will be more likely to lead to sales. According to our recent whitepaper, the realities of influencer marketing: TikTok and YouTube in focus, which surveyed over 2,000 consumers, influencers and marketers in the UK, US and Germany, over a quarter of consumers have been influenced to buy a product or service promoted by creators on YouTube. Yet, this latest technological development could see this rate increase further.

The future of ecommerce

The popularisation of online shopping since the start of the pandemic has further blurred the boundaries between traditional and social media marketing.

Keen to capitalise on the growth in ecommerce, a number of platforms have recently announced updates to reflect this. For example, TikTok’s collaboration with Shopify and Instagram’s homepage redesigned with the shopping tab more visible and accessible.

Similarly, the launch of YouTube’s own ecommerce technology will further increase the commercial potential of social content in a more user-friendly way.

As this trend for improving monetisation opportunities and measurement capabilities continues, we expect brands and marketers to adopt a new mindset as we emerge from the pandemic, with a greater focus on social media channels at the expense of traditional advertising channels.

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