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YouTube to Host Small-Business Shopping Event in E-Commerce Push

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(Bloomberg) -- YouTube is hosting a small-business day to attract more entrepreneurs and shoppers to its platform, in an effort to bolster revenue and make the website a bigger hub for e-commerce.

The world’s largest video platform will showcase a live-streamed shopping event Thursday, during which viewers will be able to buy products directly. YouTube will also try to entice small businesses to create content and advertise on its website. It’s part of parent company Google’s International Small Business Week, which coincided with rival Amazon.com Inc.’s two-day Prime Day shopathon.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has bolstered its ambitions to become a larger force in online retail recently, deepening its partnership with Shopify Inc. and making it easier for users to see and buy products on its websites. That effort has struggled to gain traction against Amazon’s e-commerce machine, which holds a commanding position across North America and Europe. YouTube introduced shopping ads in 2019 and also offered ads with “buy now” buttons. Now, it’s hosting its first “live shopping experience” with 20 small businesses showing their summer gift ideas.

“The volume of viewers who are coming to YouTube because they want to discover a new brand or discover a new product is a shift in viewer behavior that we’ve seen over the last year or so,” Kate Stanford, Google’s vice president of ads marketing, said in an interview. “We’ll see more investments in how to make YouTube more shoppable over time.”

YouTube is trying to appeal to companies that may have already advertised on Facebook Inc. and its Instagram application, but not on the video website. On Monday, the company said it was simplifying the way to buy YouTube video ads to make it more accessible to startups.

Mark Tsigounis, the founder of Hibear Design Co., will participate in Thursday’s event, showing off his company’s line of flasks that can make coffee or cocktails. After advertising on Instagram and Google, Tsigounis said he was about to start a campaign on YouTube where he hoped to hold viewers’ attention for longer. “As a lifestyle brand, the best way to tell our story is through video,” he said.

Thursday’s event will also seek to educate entrepreneurs on best practices for making compelling videos. Tiana Coates, the owner of Winding Wick Candles in Ferris, Texas, will discuss how she’s accumulated 40,000 subscribers by video-blogging about building a small business. Coates has never advertised on the site, though she’s considering a campaign for later this year. She stocked up on inventory ahead of the small-business day and hopes “it’s an opportunity to reach new eyes.”

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