Over the past few years, YouTube (like pretty much every other digital platform) has doubled down on ecommerce, introducing numerous features that allowed it to turn YouTube viewers into potential shoppers–with a slice of their spending coming back to it, and sometimes to content creators.
Now it’s sunsetting one of those features: shoppable links, which has been in testing since 2021. Creators involved in the test could use the feature to tag products within their videos; when those tags were clicked, they’d take viewers straight to a landing and/or buying page for the product.
Instead of paying creators for a percentage of sales their individual links generated–the standard practice with affiliate-esque tools–YouTube opted to pay creators a flat $50 to $100 per month for including tags in their videos, Insider reports.
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It seems that particular type of affiliate model might not have worked out.
“We strongly believe that YouTube is the best place for creators to build a business and that an affiliate model will be the most beneficial way for creators to earn money at scale,” YouTube reportedly said in a message to creators.
The platform added that it’s “invest[ing] in the affiliate program as a long-term solution,” but doing so involves “phasing out the ability to tag products from other brands and related short-term incentive programs.”
So, what’s the plan from here on out? Well, it appears YouTube is just moving away from the monthly payout, and toward a more traditional percentage-based model.
“We’ve seen early success with our YouTube Shopping affiliate program, which allows creators in the U.S. to earn commission from purchases on tagged products in their videos and Shorts, and will now begin to move to this model for all creators,” it said.
YouTube introduced the shopping affiliate program in November 2022, and said it planned to gradually roll that tool out to more creators throughout 2023.
“We firmly believe YouTube is the best place for creators to build a business and shopping is a piece of that,” a YouTube spokesperson said at the time.