The big question since Google acquired YouTube, is how it is going to monetise its investment. There’s no question that YouTube gets an incredibly large audience of eyeballs worldwide – last October it reached 100 million users for the month in the USA alone – but to date the conversion of that massive audience to making some money with it has been largely missing.

But also in October last year, YouTube began an experiment to what may well be a first serious attempt at making its investment pay off. On the US YouTube, Google placed click-to-buy links beneath videos under videos from Amazon, iTunes, EMI Music and Electronic Arts. Click-to-buy was also placed on the UK YouTube, and, as of today links will appear below music videos on YouTube in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

How successful has the addition been? According to the YouTube Blog:

“… when Monty Python launched their channel in November, not only did their YouTube videos shoot to the top of the most viewed lists, but their DVDs also quickly climbed to No. 2 on Amazon’s Movies & TV bestsellers list, with increased sales of 23,000 percent.” With numbers like this clearly click-to-buy is not pinin’, passed on, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker, bereft of life, pushing up the daisies, off the twig, shuffled off the mortal coil, or run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!

Somewhat ominously, in terms of the viewing experience as opposed to the commercial one, YouTube envisages expanding the concept from simply a link below the video. For example, the The YouTube blog entry also mentions that “… semi-transparent overlays that appear in the bottom of the video for a short period of time…” could be the next incarnation of the ‘buy now’ link.

Asked when the Click-to-buy would make it to Australia, a YouTube spokesperson told us, “We look forward to expanding internationally but have nothing to announce at this time”.