YouTube is upping the ante on its shopping features. Late last year, the video platform launched an affiliate-marketing program that the company had been quietly testing with a small set of creators for over a year. The program pays creators commissions for the sales they drive through clickable affiliate links. 

Video platform competitors Instagram and TikTok have both struggled to integrate shopping seamlessly into their platforms. Instagram shut down its native affiliate program in 2022, shifting focus to its Creator Marketplace that matches creators with brands for paid partnerships. Meanwhile, TikTok Shop has found success drawing in small businesses but struggled to convince larger consumer brands — and turned off some users who feel the app has been flooded with shopping videos.

Many creators have yet to use YouTube’s affiliate program or that they weren’t familiar with the program. Their clients use other programs from Amazon, MagicLinks, and LTK. It is these already established programs that could make it hard for YouTube’s affiliate feature to compete and properly infiltrate into the daily toolbox of many creators. 

Naturally, where there are many creators who have not yet used YouTube’s affiliate program at all, there are others who are mixing its use with that of the established affiliate programs such at LTK and Amazon. 

For YouTube to come out on top, it may depend on convincing more creators like McGowan that its affiliate tool can bring in money for them on top of the other programs they’ve come to rely on. Currently, YouTube’s program doesn’t offer anything creators can’t get elsewhere in the affiliate-marketing space, YouTuber Amanda Golka said.

According to screenshots of the affiliate-program dashboard sourced by various publications, YouTube’s affiliate program offers commissions between 1% and 20%.
Recent commission rate statistics show a 15% commission for driving sales of Adidas leggings and Sephora Collection liquid foundation, as well as a 1% commission on a Samsung USB-C wall-phone charger sold through Walmart.

If we compare these rates to existing programs, the Amazon Influencer Program also offers fixed rates between 1% and 20%.

Like many creator programs, YouTube creators must meet certain criteria to join. Firstly, creators need more than 15,000 subscribers to apply. In addition, creators also must be in the YouTube Partner Program and based in the US. She said she hopes YouTube will eventually lower the requirements for the affiliate program so that smaller creators can join.