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YouTube expands click-to-buy ecommerce effort

Expanding on a program that enables video viewers to click on ads related to content they’re watching, YouTube’s “click-to-buy” ad program will now be available in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

The program launched in October 2008 for the US and United Kingdom. It empowered music labels to capitalize on their content, as well as pirated material, by providing links where users can buy songs featured in music videos on YouTube, for example. Purchasing icons currently include Amazon, iTunes, EMI and Electronic Arts.

In an announcement made Wednesday, YouTube claimed such ads helped boost sales of Monty Python DVDs “23,000%,” pushing the series to No. 2 on Amazon’s list of Movies and TV bestsellers. Monty Python launched a YouTube channel last November, a month after the click-to-buy program launched.

“The past few months have demonstrated that great content on YouTube leads to increased sales,” the company stated, adding that, in the future, the program will include products beyond the existing selection of music, DVDs and video games.

YouTube also said it would experiment with how links are displayed.

Content providers interested in the offering may add click-to-buy links through ContentID, which identifies YouTube videos containing pirated material. From there, rightful copyright-holders can opt to block the video — or monetize it.

A recent comScore survey found about 77% of the US internet audience watched an online video in November 2008 — driving the total of online videos viewed by US internet viewers to 12.7 billion. This marks a 34% increase from November 2007.

The figure will likely only grow as the recession drives Americans to seek cheaper alternatives for entertainment. Earlier this month, Google — YouTube’s parent company — also announced plans to stop accepting uploads on Google Video, which launched some years ago as a YouTube rival.

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