YouTube is exploring ways to offer live shopping experiences

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YouTube said it’s exploring new options for live ecommerce and closer shopping integration efforts as a way to boost its income as ad revenue drops.

It’s already dabbled with a livestream partnership with Netflix featuring YouTube creator Jackie Aina and makeup artist Pat McGrath, who has released a collection of products inspired by the streamer’s “Bridgeton” series.

The experience included direct links to buy products via a Netflix-hosted ecommerce experience.

The company also says it’s working on a “multicommerce” experience that is expected to include a more tightly integrated shopping experience than simple affiliate links, which is how many content creators on YouTube and other social media platforms make money outside of splitting any ad revenue with YouTube.

Because the actual ecommerce experience was handled by Netflix, it’s not immediately clear if YouTube will take a similar approach to other live stream shopping experiences it might offer in the future or try to build out its own checkout system, perhaps with Google Wallet or Google Pay integration.

The alternative is to make the checkout more platform-agnostic and simply link to a vendor’s preferred shopping page or forge partnerships with big names in ecommerce such as Shopify or Big Commerce to integrate their shopping experiences, including accelerated checkouts, with the live stream shopping features.

YouTube reported $6.86 billion in ad revenue for the first quarter of 2022, falling significantly short of the $7.4 billion Wall Street was expecting. That’s how the video site makes most of its money.

Ad revenue on the site had soared to $28.8 billion in 2021, likely driven by increased demand for its video content due to the pandemic.

Alphabet, Google’s parent, also missed earnings expectations for quarter one, and is warning that future earnings will likely be down as well, in part due to the company suspending operations in Russia.

Amazon, which already is firmly planted as an ecommerce leader, has offered multiple live shopping video streams for several years that are tightly integrated with its shopping pages.

There are also, of course, stalwarts QVC and HSN, which primarily broadcast on linear channels but have been expanding into streaming and digital more over the past few years. While these companies have a legion of dedicated shoppers, some have noted the company has failed to invest in better fulfillment options including more free and faster shipping.