Did YouTube Wait Too Long for YouAffiliate?

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Written by Brook Schaaf

YouTube’s new shopping features for creators, including “Shopping Collections” and “Affiliate Hub,” have had a burst of coverage this past week, including in TechCrunch, Hello Partner, Practical Ecommerce, Search Engine Journal, Modern Retail, and AdExchanger. So much coverage indicates to me some kind of public relations push, which, in turn, signals serious intent by YouTube. 

I wrote a blurb just over a month ago about YouTube, TikTok, and X’s disparate treatment toward affiliate, with YouTube being the most favorable, but it bears more detailed commentary in light of a subsequent Business Insider (paywall) article that Jesse Lakes of Geniuslink shared.

From the article: “While it’s still early days for YouTube’s native affiliate program, Business Insider’s conversations with several talent managers and creators suggest the tool may be having a hard time attracting creators who have a bevy of other affiliate options to choose from.” 

“Native affiliate program” is, for me, a novel term to describe a situation like this, which itself is kind of novel — i.e., a platform acting as a sub-affiliate network for its creators. Whether or not this catches on both as a term and a practice may depend on YouTube’s success. The article cites creators already having direct relationships with other monetization solutions, such as Amazon, LTK, and MagicLinks, or niche advertisers, such as finance-related companies.

A couple cited commission rates were competitive, so integration into creator workflows might come down to YouTube’s tools, which it could be in a good position to cultivate. The company also offered bonuses last year to entice participation, according to BI. 

Two other challenges were the threshold of 15,000 subscribers and fear of demonetization (i.e., a creator would keep direct-relationship revenue even if it lost revshare dollars), though the latter seems to impact political channels, which probably post fewer affiliate links anyway (at least at this time). 

Thus, YouTube’s embrace of affiliate, while most welcome, may have come too late in the game. Other platforms should take note. 

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