San Francisco: YouTube on Tuesday added links to online stores in a move crafted to pump more money from the hot video-sharing website Google bought nearly two years ago in a $1.65 billion stock deal.
“They spent a ton of money on this thing and it is natural they want to make a return,” analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said.
“The trick is how to do it without scaring users to another property. It is going to be a delicate dance.”
Google has bided its time working on ways to “monetize” YouTube without alienating notoriously transient Internet users that could easily switch to Hulu, Daily Motion or other rivals in the online video-sharing arena.
“Click-to-buy” links are being discretely placed in control panels below YouTube videos to invite people to visit online shops iTunes or Amazon.com to buy music, books, films or other material related to snippets watched.
“This is just the beginning of building a broad, viable ecommerce platform for users and partners on YouTube,” said a message on the website.
“Our vision is to help partners across all industries offer useful and relevant products to a large, yet targeted audience, and generate additional revenue from their content on YouTube beyond the advertising we serve against their videos.”
Links to online stores are making a US debut on videos of EMI Music artists and of the Spore computer game recently released by Electronic Arts.
Such “retail links” will be gradually added to YouTube’s library of music videos, according to the northern California firm.
“Our goal is to slowly but surely expand the program to add additional content and product partners, as well as our international users,” YouTube said. “We’re just getting started, so stay tuned.”