YouTube Looks To Retail For A New Revenue Stream

Google owned site linking to retail partners in an efffort to increase revenue.

Google’s YouTube may dominate the online video arena, but it has had a notoriously hard time monetizing that dominance. In its efforts to boost revenue, the site has begun accepting advertisements on its homepage, and is now streaming post roll advertising on select partner videos (YouTube still does not feature any pre-roll advertising). 

Now, the site is trying to leverage its extensive viewership to become, quite possibly, the Web’s most prolific retail referrer.

Members of the YouTube partner program can have links to sites such as Apple’s iTunes and placed below their videos. 

If a viewer likes a music video for example, clicking the referrer link will open iTunes and take them to the song. If they purchase the song, then YouTube and the video creator get a slice of the revenue. 

That will hold true for clips from video games, such as Electronic Arts’ Spore, as well as TV and film clips and even related books. 

Even if the company doesn’t upload the clips themselves, they can use Google’s content ID system to locate user uploaded clips featuring their music or video, and add the referral link to them. So if a user uploads a trailer for a new episode of  Dirty Jobs, Discovery--which recently launched a number of its own YouTube channels--could have a referral ad placed below that video.

"YouTube content partners now have the ability to promote and monetize their content in a new and exciting way and create a deeper distribution channel for their content online," said Chad Hurley, co-founder and CEO, YouTube, in a statement. "Our goal is to improve the overall YouTube experience by connecting consumers with relevant information and entertaining content. The addition of retail links will enhance the viewing experience and allow people to engage more deeply with the content they want to consume."