Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, has just announced Shopping ads on YouTube at the IAB MIXX conference– just in time for the holidays! Now, I’m not live blogging this event. But I did get briefed in advance so I prepared ahead of time to report the breaking news in real time.

Have you ever watched a video on YouTube and wondered, where can I buy those cool sneakers? If so, you’re not alone. YouTube has become a place for both shopping research and inspiration. In fact, we’ve seen an over 40% growth in viewership of product videos on YouTube – from reviews, tutorials, to first impressions – in the past year alone. And according to a recent Google Consumer Survey, one in five 18-24 year olds say they go to YouTube to find out what’s cool to purchase.

YouTube Shopping Ads: A Digital Storefront

To help viewers shop directly from the videos they’re watching, Wojcicki has announced Shopping ads are coming to YouTube, and according to my advanced briefing:

“Shopping ads can transform ANY video on YouTube into a digital storefront”

Similar to YouTube Interactive Cards, Shopping ads will appear as an icon on the top right corner of a video on a YouTube video. When users click on the icon, the Cards will drop down, and they’ll be able to scroll through images and pricing information about products featured in the video. If users are interested in purchasing, they can simply click the image and they’ll be taken to the retailer’s website to learn more, read reviews, or click to buy.

The shopping ads can be added on all eligible creator videos - they are not restricted to appear just on the video content uploaded by the actual retailer.

As you might expect, Shopping ads on YouTube will be sold in an auction-based system similar to Shopping ads on Google search and the top ones shown to users will be selected based on a variety of signals, including contextual and audience relevancy. YouTube is starting to test these ads this fall and they should be available for all AdWords for video advertisers sometime in the next few months.

ShoppingAdsonYouTube

FAQs About Shopping Ads on YouTube

Now, I’ve also tried to imagine the most frequently asked questions that video marketers might ask about Shopping ads on YouTube. Here are a few:

Q: To use Shopping ads, will retailers simply connect their Merchant Feed?

A: Yes, they will. And if you haven’t done that before, click on this link to open your Merchant account.

Q: Will product ads be eligible to show as one of the shopping ads alongside the video?

A: Yes, they will. And more than one of your Product Listing Ads can appear for a given user search and, if relevant, a Product Listing Ad and a text ad can also appear at the same time. This means your reach with shoppers for a single search could double.

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Q: Will advertisers only pay when a user clicks on the ad?

A: Yes, Shopping ads on YouTube are similar to Shopping ads on Google.

Q: Will Shopping ads on YouTube provide a new revenue stream for creators, providing another way to monetize product-focused videos?

A: Yes, they will. In fact, I expect today’s announcement to send brands scrambling to build relationships with the top video influencers in the hauls category, where fans show off purchases from their recent shopping spree. And, I also expect what I’d like to call “product placement on steroids” to quickly spreads to other categories, including: General gaming, where many games encourage users to buy add-ons within the game, unboxing, where tech lovers showcase how a product looks by carefully removing it from its packaging, as well as cooking and recipes, where easy dinner recipes for delicious food and quick healthy meals can be linked to printable grocery coupons for weekly specials in local grocery stores across America.

If I've miss any questions that you want answered, just ask them in the comments section below.

Making YouTube More Shoppable For All

Today’s “new news” doesn’t come as total surprise. Over the course of this year, YouTube has been rolling out new ways to make videos more interactive, shortening the distance between the time a viewer sees an ad and makes their actual purchase.

Back in March, YouTube launched Interactive Cards, which enable creators to share product information directly within their videos across all screens. Then, in May, YouTube took this feature further with TrueView for shopping, which is kinda, sorta like “automatic” Cards, because you can connect your Google Merchant Center feed to your TrueView campaign to dynamically insert product cards within YouTube’s in-stream ads, based on the products that are most likely to lead to a conversion. While both of these features are great for making advertiser videos more shoppable, Shopping ads bring this functionality to all videos on YouTube. And that makes this an inflexion point in the digital video marketing business.

While many in the industry are still quibbling over viewability, YouTube is offering something far more valuable that views. They are offering direct sales of products like apparel, shoes, sunglasses, handbags, watches, custom goods, media, video game software, and books. This is bigger than QVC and HSN put together – because YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.

So, imagine this: Virtually any brand can now partner with the top YouTube influencers in their category and transform “any video on YouTube into a digital storefront.” Yes, that's a big bleeping deal.