Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google Tries Squeezing More Money Out of YouTube

Google’s two-pronged “get serious” strategy–cut costs while finding new places to earn pennies here and there–continues. The latest effort: an extension of the affiliate sales program it introduced to YouTube last fall.

Google (GOOG) has expanded its YouTube eCommerce program, which lets users “click-to-buy” products related to the video they’re watching on YouTube, by extending the offers to viewers in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands; they had previously been limited to U.S. and U.K. users.

And instead of just adding an affiliate link to Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes or to Amazon (AMZN) at the bottom of the video, YouTube is now featuring the links on transparent overlays that pop up early in the clip. Check out the Monty Python clip below, which features a link that lets surfers buy a $99 box set (that looks like a pretty good deal, actually). [UPDATE: My apologies. Looks as if the overlay ads aren't running on embedded clips, which makes them even more marginal. If you want to see what they look like, you'll have to view them on YouTube itself.]

This is small stuff, and won’t move the needle for Google–or even YouTube, for that matter. But Google is doing lots of small stuff these days, like text ads on its image search, iPhone-ready ads, etc.

You can argue that the company needs to do that because its core business is slowing or because the economy is pummeling the company just as it is everyone else. But expect to see many more tweaks like this in the future: Perhaps we’ll hear more about them tomorrow afternoon, when the company announces its fourth-quarter results.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald