As suspected for some time now, if tapped into properly, YouTube stands to become a major revenue generator. Shoppable videos are videos that allow a user to shop through the video itself via clicks and links.

This is a community post, untouched by our editors.

[Previous: The Stressful Network? New Study Examines the Anxiety of Digital Life]

Since 2005 the world has been taken by storm with the brilliantly designed video sharing site YouTube. The online video sharing platform has captured the imagination of millions of users. Each day more and more original content is posted to the international video site. As suspected for some time now, if tapped into properly, YouTube stands to become a major revenue generator. However, until this point, most of the ads on YouTube existed as banners, and various marketers and advertisers were unsure how to prove the revenue generated from posted content and viral video.  All of this is now changing.

Old School ads Old School ads  via Flickr

Shoppable videos are videos that allow a user to shop through the video itself via clicks and links. YouTube has been developing new technologies in this arena to encourage deeper relationships between brands and consumers. Shoppable videos have traditionally been a pipe dream, with many third party groups tackling the idea. However, YouTube, potentially the largest player in the realm of online video, has figured out how to leverage this concept to potentially represent a new era in online video marketing and sales. In the not so distant future, I suspect users and viewers on YouTube will be able to click on an actor’s outfit and buy the articles of clothing displayed in a given frame, for that matter anything on the film might become purchasable. What’s next? Order songs that are played on YouTube and add them to your Spotify or online music streaming account? Buy a ticket to Hawaii through a video that takes place in Maui? Connect with the breeder of President Obama’s Portuguese Waterdog? YouTube, as a platform with tremendous potential, is finally innovating out of the company’s technological progress gap with imagination that will surely drive the online video demand and industry forward.

One of the biggest struggles with social media, and online marketing is identifying a clear ROI and/or focusing the eyes of users on a targeted site. The hang-up is that it’s difficult to draw a link to social media ROI and, what’s more, users do not want to be bombarded with advertisement as they consume and digest content. To tackle these issues, YouTube has developed a new approach to advertising through embedding links in frames of video — creating an intuitive, interactive shoppable video that can be accessed by millions of YouTube users. These embedded links take the user from a YouTube video to a webpage where items worn in the video are for sale. In the present moment, I’ve only seen shoppable clothing ads. However, as YouTube works out the kinks of the technology, I imagine we’ll see it across consumption products. This out of the box thinking is brilliant. Why? It is brilliant because the new technology makes the jump from stagnant online banner ads to tapping into human desire through seemingly dynamic and interactive video ads.

For Example – Person X is watching a video. The video on its own is catchy, and person X decides the outfit on actor Y is great. Person X wants to investigate the outfit on actor Y. The new YouTube technology allows person X to easily jump from visual desire while watching the film to interacting with a webpage that is selling the exact outfit off actor Y. The below video by Juicy Couture shows model, Candice Swanepoel, dreaming about a fantastical world with cats, gems, pink bags, and more. At first glimpse this video is nothing new. However, as you watch the video, you’ll quickly see that a non-obstructive box appears that allows you to purchase her bikini, jewelry, her pink bags and more. This Juicy Couture advertisement shows the paradigm shift in brands connecting with consumers through videos, opening up a new window into brand and consumer relationships as well as a more sophisticated ROI funnel.

Play around with this video and you will quickly learn just how intuitive and smart YouTube’s new video technology is. As the video plays, images of accessories pop up unobtrusively. If you click an image, the video will pause and a pop-up will give you, as a would be consumer, the option to visit the Juicy page with the accessory for sale. This new approach to YouTube online video represents a new era in online advertising, plain and simple. Imagine how this technology could scale out. I anticipate we will be seeing much more of these new ads by food vendors, fashion labels, technology companies, musicians and more in the years to come.

After playing around with the Juicy Couture ad I have the following to say: while I think the newer technology is fascinating and a brilliant eye on the future — it still lacks great experience. At the moment, the user experience of the video is sort of uncomfortable and clunky. However, once this Youtube technology matures, I am confident that we will be looking at an ecommerce revolution. The challenge facing YouTube is how to keep viewers watching the video while not detracting too much from the video experience when offering shoppable items. Once YouTube effectively tackles this challenging area, we will be setting foot into the next era of interactive video. The sky’s the limit really – especially with new, emerging innovations. Imagine 3D printing associated with shoppable video or connecting YouTube songs to music streaming sites. The coming years will be a testament to deepening brand identity through YouTube. Here’s to 2013.

You can connect with Brian Fiore-Silfvast via Twitter @bfiores