youtube, youtube shorts, spam, affiliate marketing, social media marketing, content creation, short form video content,

YouTube puts a stop to affiliate marketing in Shorts

YouTube appears to have put a sudden stop to affiliate marketing in its Shorts department. Due to an issue with spamming becoming too much in the short-form video content on the site, YouTube is putting a halt to all affiliate links.

Any links added to the descriptions of YouTube Shorts content will become unclickable from August 31st in an effort to end the chaos the “spam” is causing. This includes Shorts comments, Shorts descriptions and the vertical live feed. It follows a similar move on August 10th that removed banner links entirely from the Shorts department.

The spam links on the platform were sending users to dangerous content, such as malware and phishing scams, however, YouTube and indeed Google, YouTube’s owner, have procedures in place to detect and remove spam links. For instance, they had a problem with fan accounts spreading spam. YouTube has already cut spam by 35% from Q1 of 2022 to 2023 by tackling fan accounts with improvements to their impersonation channel detection.

To remove links altogether could be doing more damage to the brands and businesses around the spamming. The real problem is that this appears to be permanent.

YouTube has said that the ability to add links will come back, as of August 23rd, but these will be limited to links to other YouTube content. There will also be another space available on their profile where they can post links elsewhere.

Content links for Shorts are to be introduced in September. The idea is to make links in Shorts more intuitive and seamless and allow for cross-promotion. However, it is still limited to Shorts. There will be no way to link from Shorts content to anything outside of YouTube. The video platform has said that it believes that this would strengthen its Shorts eco-system.

The Impact on Affiliates?

This alternative isn’t likely to appeal to many affiliate marketers, who will have to play a game of telephone to get their target audience from the Shorts content to a YouTube video and then onto the affiliate link beyond YouTube. Marketers on the app will have their links confined to their profile, rather than available to click straight from the content.

This is going to be a problem as adding extra clicks to the customer’s journey is likely to affect affiliate marketing negatively, especially since they are typically paid on a PPC basis.

An option for creators on YouTube Shorts is to direct users from the content to their own profile where they can have a LinkTree bio, or an equivalent, directing users to various links beyond YouTube.

YouTube Shorts could have been a great avenue for affiliate marketing, the way TikTok has become, but their extreme measures to tackling spam might have put a stop to that.

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