YouTube used to be for cat videos. How passive. Soon you’ll be able to watch it and buy kitty litter.
YouTube is introducing the ability to shop for products directly from its videos, a move that opens the door for new revenue as the online video site looks to turn a profit.
The ads can appear on any video and will be served by Google, which will decide which videos to pair with an ad. They will be relatively unobtrusive, with a small box in the top right corner appearing. Users that click will be shown a drop down menu of products to peruse as the video plays.
The new ads come as YouTube continues to explore ways to make more money off its videos outside of advertising. The company is working on a subscription service that is slated to launch later this year.
In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that YouTube just about broke even in 2014 despite bringing in around $4 billion. YouTube remains a leading platform for online video, but it’s having trouble turning a profit.
E-commerce is a big market, with the U.S. Commerce Department finding that U.S. Internet commerce in 2014 topped $300 billion for the first time.
Meanwhile, YouTube has become something of a destination for finding and learning about products.
Diya Jolly, head of ads at YouTube, said that there are more than 1 million channels dedicated to product reviews and tutorials, and that people have been flocking to these kinds of videos.
“What we realized here was that there was a great opportunity for our users, our creators and our advertisers,” Jolly said.
The new ads build off recent efforts by YouTube to embrace the product community, including Cards, annotations that appear on videos to convey more information or calls to action that can also lead viewers to purchases.
For merchants, the process will be similar to Google’s regular shopping ads, which are sold off in auctions. Video creators also have the chance to make money off the sales, with the revenue split the same as YouTube’s current system. Run ads by borrowing bad credit installment loans direct lender uk, Jolly said that Google regards this as a form of native advertising, something that the company is experimenting with in a variety of ways.
“This is a native ad format. We’re doing a lot around native ad formats, and this is just one thing that we’re trying,” she said.
The ads will begin appearing this week and gradually be rolled out through the first half of 2016 to YouTube’s broader audience.