In the coming months, YouTube will give more creators access to its tipping tool, Applause, and intends to roll out an ecommerce feature it says will allow viewers “to tap into the credibility and knowledge of trusted creators to make informed purchases directly on YouTube.”
Both features are part of YouTube’s increasing focus on what it calls “alternative monetization”–things like Super Chat, Super Stickers, and Channel Memberships that allow creators to make money from their content outside of AdSense.
YouTube was already paying attention to alternative monetization pre-2020, but it doubled down when the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a surge in creator and fan usage of the tools. CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed last month that over the course of the year, the number of channels making the majority of their revenue from Super Chat, Super Stickers, and/or Channel Memberships tripled.
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Now, YouTube says it plans to “more broadly” roll out Applause, its next major alternative monetization feature, throughout 2021.
Applause, like similar tipping features on Twitch and Facebook, lets users donate a specific amount of money to creators during live streams (thus far donations have been set at $2 per “clap,” with YouTube taking a 30% cut). A handful of creators in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and New Zealand have been using it in beta since February 2020.
YouTube didn’t clarify what exactly a broader rollout will entail. The platform’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, said today that its goal with Applause is to “find even more ways to help creators diversify their revenue streams,” and that the feature was “[i]nspired by the success of Super Chat and Super Stickers for livestreams.”
Creators may be able to turn their videos into shoppable catalogs
As for incoming online shopping-related monetization, Mohan said YouTube is currently beta testing a “new integrated shopping experience” that will involve creators recommending products to their viewers–and, presumably, earning revenue if viewers purchase items they endorsed.
The feature is “an opportunity to meet the growing demand for e-commerce,” Mohan said, and will “expand later in 2021.”
It’s possible this feature is the one Bloomberg wrote about in October that will turn some creators’ videos into tappable product catalogs. At the time, YouTube confirmed it was working on something where viewers could touch certain products in videos and add them directly to a Google Shopping cart, but didn’t say if creators would earn revenue from sales.
“Together, this group of products will further fuel the ambitions of today’s pioneers in the creative economy and their next-generation media companies,” Mohan said.
He highlighted several creators who have turned their YouTube presences into full-fledged businesses, including beauty guru Daisy Marquez, who just launched her own wine brand, and longtime makers Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, whose Mythical Entertainment “started out in a garage [and] now occupies a 17,000 square-foot studio in LA, and employs over 100 people who also support the company’s expansion into branded content, ecommerce, podcasts, books, live events, a subscription fan club, and more.”
Mohan announced these features as part of a new blog series where he and other YouTube employees will “give a firsthand look into pushing forward the boundaries of online video.” He also shared details about YouTube’s TikTok challenger, Shorts, and upcoming changes to YouTube TV offerings.