YouTube, the second most popular search engine  is the dark horse of social commerce, and an increasingly valuable social commerce tool, as a new campaign from Juicy Couture illustrates.

For example, in the beauty industry referral traffic from Twitter and Facebook is falling, but has more than doubled from YouTube in the last year. Visitors to business YouTube channels are also growing significantly.  It’s a sign that after the picture fetish (pinterest, instagram et al), the future is video. So is it time to review the basic 2-point social commerce strategy of adding social widgets to your e-commerce site, and adding e-commerce widgets to social networking sites?

Juicy Couture thinks so, and in a vote for YouTube as the future of social commerce the fashion retailer is part of YouTube’s External Annotations Beta Program which enables ‘plinking’ (product linking) from video scenes to product pages.   Hover over an item in a video and it will bring up a semi-transparent white frame that links to the e-commerce product page. But the new news is that YouTube has rolled this feature out to all (approved merchants) – allowing you too to easily create shoppable videos with hotlinks from products in the video to e-commece pages. See a bikini at 1,30″ click on it to go to the bikini product page, see a sun hat at 1.43″ click and you’ll go to that product page. Major marketplaces have already been approved including Google Play, iTunes, Spreadshirt, District Lines, Topspin, Cafepress, Jinx, Shopify, and Songkick. Whilst the shoppable video concept is not new – YouTube has just made it a whole lot easier.

We’re a big fan of the shoppable video trend, partly because it will allow merchants to measure the ROI of investment in online video, but mostly because video is where traditional media and digital media will ultimately converge. We see YouTube’s “Merch Annotations” (doesn’t Google’s branding make your heart beat faster? Not.) as a step in the right direction.  Think of it as subtitle tracks for commerce.  We also think there is a significant opportunity for social media agencies to offer a service for posting TV ads on YouTube, augmented with these ‘commercial subtitles’. Your thoughts?