YouTube: “An affiliate model will be the most beneficial way.”

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Where one door closes, another opens

Written by Brook Schaaf

According to an article on Insider, YouTube is shutting down a product-tagging tool that was available to select creators as of today, April 19. Tubefilter, which referred to the tool as “shoppable links,” explained, “Creators involved in the test could use the feature to tag products within their videos; when those tags were clicked, they’d take viewers straight to a landing and/or buying page for the product.”

YouTube posted (in, interestingly, Hindi and Portuguese along with English), “We’ve seen early success with our YouTube Shopping affiliate program, which allows creators in the U.S. to earn commission from purchases on tagged products in their videos and Shorts, and will now begin to move to this model for all creators.”

So what is the difference between the just-sunsetted shoppable links and the YouTube Shopping affiliate program that currently lists several dozen merchant programs? The answer is not entirely clear at this time (my guess: tracking and budget), but two thoughts spring to mind:

First, this marks another milestone for the now-accepted-and-even-expected affiliate monetization model, which has become a norm in the industry.Second, it suggests that YouTube executives may perceive some limitations in the current monetization model of sharing display revenue with creators.

If YouTube’s affiliate program operates like a true affiliate program (unlike Instagram’s), it could present a massive new opportunity for merchants to reach millions of customers through thousands of professional creators, who will have a strong incentive for posting on the platform. This potentially global effort may help against competitor TikTok, whether or not it’s shut down in the United States.

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