‘Shoppable short-form video is on fire’: YouTube’s head of shopping shares why the platform is betting on shorts to drive social commerce

  • At CreatorIQ Connect, a marketing conference in LA, industry leaders shared tips and best practices.
  • YouTube exec Bridget Dolan spoke about why the platform is betting on short-video to drive shopping.
  • “Shoppable short-form video is on fire,” Dolan said.

While livestream shopping is popular in Asia, it has yet to catch on in the United States. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube continue to bet on e-commerce, but have shifted their focus to short videos driving sales rather than hours-long livestreams.

The marketing platform hosted panels with industry professionals such as Michelle Miller, senior vice president of global marketing at K18; Bridget Dolan, global managing director of YouTube Shopping; and Jackie Pimentel, senior global marketing director at Meta at the most recent CreatorIQ Connect conference series in Los Angeles.

Dolan discussed how the tech giant views social shopping and why her team prefers short videos to livestreams to drive sales.

“Shoppable short-form video is on fire,” Dolan declared during a panel discussion about creators and online shopping. “In 2022, we had over 150 billion views on YouTube of videos with products tagged — shoppable videos.” Shopping shorts are growing much faster than shorts.”

Dolan went on to say that shopping content performs best on YouTube when it isn’t overly staged or has a high production value, and when it highlights a single product or brand in a vertical 15-to-30-second short.

“It’s basically like a quick review of why this product is amazing,” Dolan went on to say.

The platform’s new affiliate program includes over 150 brands. To join as a brand, the company must have an affiliate relationship with Rakuten, Impact, or CJ Affiliate.

YouTube began quietly testing shopping tools like product pins with a small group of creators in 2021.

The new affiliate program, which debuted in June, allows creators to earn commissions by tagging products in their videos, which range from short-form to long-form to livestreams.

Wooing creators and best practices to drive sales

Not every product — or creator — has the potential to drive e-commerce sales. Instead of relying on top creators like MrBeast to drive its shopping efforts, YouTube is collaborating with a group of tech, fashion, and beauty influencers.

“150,000 or 1 million subscribers on YouTube are hard earned,” Dolan went on to say. “It does not come fast, and it doesn’t come easy, but when they build an audience like that, they really listen and they have that trust.”

Exclusive drops, as well as concert and sports team apparel, have proven to be successful, according to Dolan. Throughout 2023, YouTube collaborated with Coachella and the NFL to sell exclusive merch, and the company hired creators to generate buzz around Google’s Pixel 8 launch.

Last month, YouTube invited 100 top beauty and fashion creators to its Los Angeles office to shop from affiliate program brands and get advice from executives on how to sell authentically.

“Yes, they love the brand deals, and they love having those relationships, but this is the polar opposite,” Dolan said of affiliate marketing. “This is them deciding what they want to talk about. They’re making things on their own.”

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