YouTube already makes money through advertisements, YouTube Premium (to get rid of said advertisements), and memberships to specific channels. It looks like the company might be preparing to add general shopping functionality to the list, according to a new report.
Bloomberg reports that YouTube is asking creators to tag and track products featured in their videos, which will be linked to analytics and shopping tools from Google. The end goal is for Google to sell items directly through YouTube, instead of only advertising items from other sites. A YouTube spokesperson confirmed the company is testing the functionality with a handful of channels, but declined to share more details.
The most likely implementation of this feature would be based on Google Shopping, which is already tightly integrated with Search. Google Shopping is a unified storefront for thousands of retail shops large and small, including Best Buy, Target, Costco, and Overstock. However, it hasn’t quite reached full dominance — Walmart pulled out in 2019, and a few other large stores are missing from the list. Deep integration with YouTube (and the sales that could come along with that) might encourage more stores to sign up, though.