YouTube is one of the most pervasive social media outlets for both music discovery and fan engagement. As one of the world’s leading online video services, YouTube provides artists with tools to effectively market their brand on the network. Many of these tools are made available through the YouTube Partner Program, a program that allows content creators to improve their marketing and creative skills, reach larger audiences, and monetize their videos.
The YouTube Partner Program most notably assists artists in monetizing video content through advertising. Recently, YouTube launched the Merchandise Annotations Tool, which aims to provide artist with a new means of monetizing video content. Artists can now promote the sale of licensed merchandise directly in their videos. Merchandise annotations can link to pre-approved external sales sites. So far, YouTube has approved Google Play, Shopify, District Lines, Cafepress, Spreadshirt, TopSpin, Jinx, Songkick, and iTunes. Additional retailers will be approved soon. With Merchandise Annotations enabled, fans can now link to purchase sites from within the video without having to look for links to storefronts elsewhere. Before adding this feature, videos were mostly monetized by adding advertisements – an experience that isn’t exactly engaging for fans. By adding the Merchandise Annotations feature, YouTube makes shopping convenient for fans on the platform while giving artists an engaging means of monetization.
When using Merchandise Annotations, it’s important to keep some smart practices in mind. The length of time that people watch your video is important when it comes to view counts and SEO. Annotations would be more effective if they appeared near the end of the video, or at a time where it wouldn’t take away from the viewing experience. Viewers should be encouraged to watch the entire video, and should not be driven away by an annotation that appears at the wrong time. Annotations should be entered at an optimal time where view time is not disrupted and purchasing is encouraged. Annotations should also contain captivating copy. It should stand out as a purchasing message, but not be overly annoying or distracting to the viewer. The messaging should also be clear so that the audience does not mistake it for advertising. Creating videos showcasing your merchandise is an engaging way to not only promote your merchandise, but also showcase and test your Merchandise Annotations. Getting creative with your video content and showcasing your annotations in an engaging, meaningful way can make a big difference in the monetization of your YouTube content.
–Valeria Bornstein, Marketing