When Google paid $1.6 billion to acquire YouTube in 2006, the company had a vision for what could be. Today, Google is pressing into a new phase of that vision: e-commerce.
For all its popularity, YouTube is still not making big money for its parent company. But this new e-commerce twist could drive at least an incremental revenue stream. It’s called TrueView. YouTube Ads team members Avi Fein, Pete Lidwell, Jean-Yves Delort explained the new product in a blog post.
“Whether it’s watching a product review or learning how to bake a soufflé, we look to video in countless moments throughout the day to help us get things done,” they said. “We call these micro-moments -- when we reflexively turn to our devices to learn more, make a decision, or purchase a product.”
Connecting the Dots
The idea behind TrueView is to connect the dots between the moment a person watches a video and the moment that individual decides to make a purchase. TrueView makes it easy to get more information on products and then click to buy.
Here’s how it works: TrueView for shopping allows advertisers to showcase product details and images -- along with the ability to click to purchase from brands or retail sites -- within the video ads. Currently, the product is available for TrueView in-stream video ads on YouTube. With the understanding that half of YouTube views come from mobile devices, the company optimized the platform to offer a strong experience on mobile phones, desktops, and tablets.
“Built on the cards platform we announced last month, TrueView for shopping enables advertisers to scale the manual process of connecting individual products with individual videos,” the trio said. “Thanks to the first-ever integration of the Google Merchant Center into video ads, advertisers need only connect their campaign with a Merchant Center feed to dynamically add products to their in-stream videos, customized for each user through contextual and audience signals like geography and demographic info.”
No Magic Bullet
Google has the right idea here. One might wonder what took the company so long to go this route. Online video ad revenue will reach nearly $5 billion in 2016, up from $2.8 billion in 2013, as TV ad revenues take a near-3 percent dip, according to a new report from BI Intelligence.
Google is reporting strong interest and sales in early TrueView tests. Specifically, online home goods retailer Wayfair tripled its revenue increase per impression served when compared to previous campaigns, according to Google. Beauty retailer Sephora drove an 80 percent lift in consideration and 54 percent lift in ad recall, and an average view time of nearly two minutes.
Again, one has to wonder why Google didn’t do this sooner, especially with over 1 billion users watching a growing amount of content. Greg Sterling, Vice President of Strategy and Insight at the Local Search Association, told us the capability to do this has been around for a number of years.
“I suspect it will generate sales. However, it's not some kind of magical, transformative technology that will deliver a huge e-commerce lift,” Sterling said. “It's an impulse purchase scenario for the most part. The coming buy button in product search ads should be more impactful.”
Last week, news reports emerged that Google plans to display “buy” buttons on mobile devices when searchers are looking for products. The move makes Google more competitive with Amazon.com and eBay.