YouTube Now Letting Partners Link Directly From Videos To Merchandise

By Megan O'Neill 

Earlier this week we reported that YouTube has improved ‘shoppable’ video ads, making it easier for brands to sell products through annotations that let viewers click directly on the video to purchase goods.  Now YouTube is rolling out this feature to partners in good standing as well.  Partner product manager Christian Weitenberner reports on the YouTube Creator blog that verified partners “will be able to link to their merch directly in their videos, including merchandise sold in various online stores.”

If your YouTube account has been approved for this feature, it will work in the same way as the other annotations do, such as those that let users link to subscribe pages, other videos and playlists, and Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns.  Weitenberner reports that “Merch Annotations will allow you to link to any of your products on the following retail destinations: Google Play, Shopify, District Lines, Cafepress, Spreadshirt, Topspin, Jinx, Songkick, and iTunes.”

YouTube’s Head of Product for Creators and Curators, Dror Shimowitz, first announced this feature last month in a video that we shared.  Shimowitz pointed out that “this feature is only to be used to sell your own branded merchandise.”  He explained that along with the launch of Merch Annotations the original Merch Store would be phased out.  That is happening today.  Weitenberner explains, however, that with this new system even more retailers will be available than were available through the Merch Store.

It is important to note that the fact that YouTube is letting non-advertising partners link off the site is big news.  This was unheard of until very recently.  In April, the site started letting creators link to Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns, and just last month they began letting partners add branding and links to “associated websites.”  All of these new features should be monumental in opening doors for creators to earn revenue outside of YouTube ads.

Have you sold merchandise through YouTube in the past?  What do you think of the new Merch Annotations?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video expert here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.