YouTube teases expansion of live shopping with co-streams, live redirects – TechCrunch
In recent years, YouTube has worked to transform its platform into a shopping destination with product launches such as buyable ads or, more recently, the ability to buy directly from live streams hosted by creators. Today, it’s bolstering that investment with new features for live shopping experiences. At yesterday’s YouTube Brandcast event, where the company introduced itself to advertisers as a best place for their tv ad dollarsYouTube has announced upcoming features that it says will make it easier for viewers to discover and buy brands.
The company touted its future tools as giving advertisers a better way to engage viewers and connect with their audience.
A new feature, YouTube explained, will allow two creators to go live at the same time to co-host a single live shopping stream. This could effectively double the draw for the event, as each creator would bring their own fan base to the stream.
This feature comes shortly after YouTube announced in March a pilot program called “Go Live Together”, a new mobile collaborative streaming feature that would allow creators to invite guests to their live stream with a link before going live together. This essay suggested that YouTube has its eye on developing tools to better power joint live streams – just as it now plans to introduce it with its upcoming two-person shopping streams. The addition could also make YouTube more competitive with Instagram, which launched the ability for creators to go live with up to three people last year.
In addition to leveraging creators to build an audience for a live shopping event, YouTube’s live shopping stream platform also offers other tools specifically designed to drive sales. The in-brand shopping experience actually allows viewers to purchase the products featured in the video by tapping an embedded “View Products” button which then displays a list of items featured by the creators.
The company says its new two-person online shopping feature will roll out later this year.
Another upcoming option announced at Brandcast is something YouTube calls “live redirects.”
In this case, creators will be able to start a live broadcast of purchases on their channel and then redirect their audience to a brand’s channel to keep fans watching. This allows brands to harness the power of the creator’s platform and reach their fan base, but then gives the brands themselves access to that audience – and the key metrics and analytics associated with their event. live – straight to their own YouTube channel. This will also roll out this year, YouTube says, but did not provide a timeline.
YouTube ads follow the wider growth of the live e-commerce market in the United States – a trend inspired by the booming live shopping activity in China, where streamers can draw in billions of dollars in a few hours. Today, a number of startups have also entered this space, including TalkShopLive, PopShop Live, NTWRK, Whatnot, ShopShops, Super awesome and others. Klarna even added virtual shopping capabilities to connect its customers who buy now and pay later with live product demonstrations from retail partners.
Meanwhile, big tech platforms are courting brands by touting their wider reach.
Over the past year or so, we’ve seen the Walmart pilot test TikTok’s first live shopping experience; Facebook Live Shopping drives sales for brands like petcoAdvantage, Samsung, Anne-Klein and others; and Instagram hosting live shopping events for cater to holiday crowds. Twitter has even started testing live shopping, also with help from Walmart during its pilot, but it’s unclear where such moves will land if the Elon Musk takeover goes through.
While YouTube is certainly one of the biggest video creator platforms, it still seems like it has to catch up to its big tech rivals in the realm of live shopping. An eMarketer study from January 2022 found that only 14.4% of survey respondents said YouTube’s platform prompted them to buy during a live event, compared to 15.8% for TikTok, 45.8% for Instagram and 57 .8% for Facebook.
YouTube’s new live-streaming features — and especially one that pushes a creator’s fanbase to a brand’s channel — could make its solution more compelling.
“People come to YouTube every day to make decisions about what to buy, and 87% of viewers say that when they shop or browse YouTube, they feel like they can take a faster decision on what to buy with all the information we have in the videos,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said, speaking to the audience at the Brandcast live event last night. “We already have so much shopping activity on YouTube that we’re making it even easier for viewers to discover and buy,” she said.