Google plans to add a “click-to-buy” feature to its YouTube video unit that would allow users to buy songs, video games, movies or any other content that could be sold online. “When you view a YouTube video with a great soundtrack, you often see comments from YouTube users asking about the name of the song and where they can download it. Or when users watch the trailer for an upcoming video game, they want to know when it will be released and where they can buy it,” wrote Glenn Brown, YouTube strategic partner development manager, and Thai Tran, YouTube product manager, in a blog post on Google’s Web site.
The new feature is Google’s latest attempt to make more money from its massively popular video-sharing site, which until now had relied on advertising hot links to generate revenue. Google paid $1.65 billion for YouTube in 2006. The click-to-buy feature will be unobtrusive retail links placed on the watch page beneath the video with the other community features, Brown and Tran wrote in the blog. “Just as YouTube users can share, favorite, comment on, and respond to videos quickly and easily, now users can click to buy products—like songs and video games—related to the content they're watching on the site,” they said. The company has started by embedding iTunes and Amazon.com links on videos from companies like EMI Music and providing Amazon product links to the newly released video game Spore on videos from Spore’s publisher Electronic Arts, according to Google.
“This is just the beginning of building a broad, viable e-commerce platform for users and partners on YouTube. Our vision is to help partners across all industries—from music, to film, to print, to TV—offer useful and relevant products to a large, yet targeted audience, and generate additional revenue from their content on YouTube beyond the advertising we serve against their videos,” Brown and Tran wrote. In addition, companies that use Google’s content identification and management system can enable these links on user-generated content by using Content ID to claim videos and choose to leave them up on the site.
Retail links are currently only available in the U.S., but the goal is to expand the program to additional content and international users, according to Google.
“We'll be experimenting with the UI over time to make sure this works for our community, and we'll continue to innovate based on your feedback. We're just getting started, so stay tuned for other innovative new features and product options soon,” Brown and Tran wrote.