Shortly after the announcement that YouTube would be offering merch annotations and associated website annotations, another salvo was being fired for a test just in time for the holiday shopping season.  There are currently videos in which a viewer may click on a somewhat unobtrusive box (annotation) and be whisked away to a specific page with the product they want ready to purchase, as one can now do with website annotations.  It’s pretty much a “buy this now” button for YouTube videos.  While we’ve seen some instances of these new annotations in place, this is the first time we’ve seen a video like the following that is clearly using these annotations to create an interactive, shoppable video ad, with more than one link to one website.

However, with these interactive shopping videos, the new challenge for 2013 for similar retail brands may be: how to I make an interactive video without being annoying?

Hat tip, Matt Kapko at ClickZ.

A Look at Shoppable YouTube Video Ads

This news broke in early November as YouTube was at the time working with several brands to deploy these videos with annotations as a beta test. No one really knows how many brands were a part of the  beta, but Juicy Couture and Asos are known entities that have been trying it out.

Right off the bat, though, Google’s head of industry apparel Lisa Green and Juicy Couture VP Michelle Ryan told Ad Age that essentially, it’s a bit choppy and it detracts from the flow of the video as-is.  Here’s Juicy Couture’s “California Dreaming,” (starring Candace Swanepoel and shot by Terry Richardson) which has around 20 items displayed in an annotation box that shows text when you place the cursor over it:

If you click on anything in that video, the video stops dead in its tracks while another page loads, taking you to a place where you can buy the item.  And if you’re interested in the products being advertised in the video, you’re probably not paying much attention to what’s going on in the video.

What YouTube is likely going to have to do with this is start figuring out how to get into Popcorn-type technology for their site.  Target recently produced a three-episode romantic comedy series where you could watch the story, but the items for sale would show up on an unobtrusive side bar:

The New Challenge?

That will be the big challenge for YouTube as they move forward with brands and trying to make videos more interactive.  Because, obviously, putting a whole bunch of stuff in the video that covers the content will turn viewers away.  No doubt we’ll be seeing some creative uses of these shoppable videos in the next year, and probably even more changes from YouTube facilitating brands’ ability to show videos without too much interruption.