YouTube's new program means more money for creators and more ads for viewers

In a test of the feature last month, YouTube says videos using it saw double the engagement of videos without the feature enabled.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
YouTube shopping

Just in time for the holidays, there's a good chance you're going to see an uptick in product placement on YouTube.

In an announcement this morning, YouTube rolled out a new program that makes it easier for content creators to showcase products and for viewers to buy them. Starting today, creators can add product timestamps to a video so a shopping button appears as the item is being discussed. 

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This design, YouTube says, should increase engagement with tagged products, which in turn increases revenue for the creator. And there's data to back that up. In a test of the feature last month, YouTube says tagged videos with timestamps saw double the engagement of videos without them.

For creators looking to test out the new feature, head to the "Tag products" tab in YouTube Studio. Search for the product you want to promote, click "Add timestamps" in the top right corner, and select when you want the promotion to appear. 

In the coming weeks, the announcement said, creators will be able to see what affiliate links drove the most revenue. To access that info, head to the "Analytics" tab under YouTube Studio, click on "Revenue" and then "Affiliate program" to find metrics like orders, clicks, and impressions.

In addition, YouTube is adding the ability to add bulk affiliate links across an entire video library based on products added in the description. This lets creators earn revenue from older content that still gets views. To access bulk tagging, go to the "Shopping" section of YouTube Studio and click on the videos you want to tag.

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The move will likely be welcomed among creators, not only because it provides increased revenue opportunities, but also because collaboration between companies and creators gets a little easier when the creator has more control. In addition, it comes not long after YouTube announced longer, less frequent ad breaks and removed control over ads from creators. Of course, it means creators will have to find a balance between promoting a product enough to make it enticing, but not going too far and making viewers click away.

For viewers, this will likely mean sitting through more in-video product promotion, but it will be a lot easier to purchase products your favorite YouTuber is talking about. Unfortunately, subscribers to YouTube Premium (who actually pay to skip ads) will still have to sit through these promotions or skip past them since they're not actually "ads." 

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