Popular YouTube channels have a new way to generate income beyond serving ads. YouTube has allowed several third-party services into its Merch Annotations program, meaning that YouTubers can annotate recommended products in their videos and link to external sites for sales and distribution. Previously, YouTubers could only link to their own sites for merchandise, forcing them into the order fulfillment business.
The program now goes beyond licensed merchandise, letting YouTubers recommend any products they like. One company benefitting from the arrangement is Sublime, which lets YouTube personalities create Pinterest-like boards of their favorite things. Fans get recommendations directly from their favorite video-makers, and also discover new products they might not have known about.
While Sublime at first looks like it’s offering an affiliate program and giving commissions, as Amazon does, that’s not the business model. Instead, the brands selling products through Sublime are looking for new customers, and so they pay a fee for things such as shopping transactions or email newsletter sign-ups. Sublime was founded in 2012 and beta launched in June, 2013.
For an example of how it works, look here for the Sublime page of YouTuber Joe Homes who runs the channel Plus2Joe. Homes has created five playlists organized by type of content. Viewers can subscribe to Sublime recommendations and tag the products they like.
For more examples, see Sublime’s channels page. And keep in mind that now ads aren’t the only way to make some bucks on YouTube.