YouTube has long had annotations which display on top of videos and with a new feature, partners will be able to link to a select number of websites that sell their products or merchandise.
This is a big step forward, and instead of clicking on product or merchandise links in the description, users will simply be able to click on an annotation. Typically, annotations were just for linking to a subscribe page, playlists, other videos, or donation pages like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
YouTube currently allows partners to link to a select number of websites: Shopify, Cafepress, Google Play, Topspin, District Lines, Spreadshirt, Songkick, Jinx, and iTunes.
As far as who exactly will be getting this feature, it all depends. The terms used are “partners in good standing” and “verified partners” so it won’t exactly be available to the masses. However, for the longest time, linking annotations off-site was only available to advertising partners.
Because of the new rollout, YouTube will be shutting down their official merch store which allowed partners to sell their music, t-shirts, and more. For those wanting to sell other products, i.e. as an affiliate, you won’t be able to do that.
Dror Shimowitz, YouTube’s Head of Product for Creators and Curators, made it clear that merch annotations are only for selling your own branded merchandise. This opens up a brand new avenue for video creators and will be especially big for artists and those who sell clothing.
That’s not all though. Since partners can link to apps on Google Play, it’s great for developers who are launching a new app and use YouTube to advertise it.