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YouTube experiment will auto-detect products in videos and provide related content links

As part of one of YouTube’s latest experiments, the video-sharing platform looks to expand beyond the “Products in this Video” feature that auto-detects specific items and will be able to generate related video links to anything featured.

We saw an early version of this feature begin testing with a very small subset of YouTube users midway through 2020, but it looks as though it is being expanded further for those viewing content in the US.

It’s not clear just how it will look, as the initial rollout of “Products in this Video” proved to be very small, to the point that there are little to no examples of it in action online. That initial test seemed to be focused on outward links to stores selling items detected within videos, whereas this experiment seems to be focused on showing you more videos about specific products that the YouTube system can auto-detect. This time around, YouTube has given a little further information on just how it will appear:

[March 22, 2021] Testing automated list of products detected in videos: We are experimenting with a new feature that displays a list of products detected in some videos, as well as related products. The feature will appear in between the recommended videos, to viewers scrolling below the video player. The goal is to help people explore more videos and information about those products on YouTube. This feature will be visible to people watching videos in the US. 

Right beneath the main YouTube player, you’ll get a list of any products feature with related content for each item prominently displayed. We guess this could appear like a banner advert, but with more interactive elements. However, rather than taking you off YouTube, you’ll see videos from other channels and creators that have showcased things auto-detected within the initial video.

youtube auto-detect products

We guess this will work almost as a secondary recommendation tool, which complements the recommended videos section that appears to the right of the main video player. The YouTube algorithm already does a fairly solid job of auto-detecting just what content you’ve been watching and serving up related videos, but this feels more aimed toward the kind of content that people watch as pre-research before making a purchase.

If expanded further, the ability to auto-detect products within YouTube videos might actually cleanup some of the more shady algorithm recommendations — given that the system still isn’t perfect. YouTube hasn’t specified just what platforms this will be available upon, simply stating that it “will be visible to people watching videos in the US.”

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Avatar for Damien Wilde Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter @iamdamienwilde. Email

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