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YouTube today announced it will share ad revenue with makes of popular one-off viral videos, a sensible move that we’ve urged the site to do in the past. Videos that are detected as accumulating a large number of views quickly will be added, with their creator’s […]

YouTube today announced it will share ad revenue with makes of popular one-off viral videos, a sensible move that we’ve urged the site to do in the past. Videos that are detected as accumulating a large number of views quickly will be added, with their creator’s permission, to a limited form of the YouTube partner program, which was previously only available to creators with an established body of popular content.

While YouTube first started sharing revenue with star users in May 2007, the site has been very cautious about selecting which of its videos it monetizes. It doesn’t even show Google AdSense next to non-partner videos. And while that’s certainly depressed the site’s revenue over the last couple years it’s also helped the company avoid lawsuits and sign on media partners. YouTube today only monetizes a sliver of its views, though a Google exec recently said that number had tripled in the past year.

YouTube is not appointment television, so the real benefit of this plan is to capture the zeitgeist of what people are watching on any given day and sell it to advertisers. Not to get all I-told-you-so, but here’s what I wrote in June of last year in an essay called “A Simple Plan to Cash in on One-Hit Wonders“:

“YouTube’s daily hits are irregular, and that’s a big part of its charm. You’re not tuning in at 8 p.m. for your favorite show; you’re getting sent a link by one of your friends, clicking on something related, browsing around to today’s top hit, and looking up from your screen half an hour later. According to comScore, YouTube viewers watch an average of 49.7 videos per month on the site. The real action on YouTube on a daily basis is unpredictable — it often comes from first-time uploaders with compelling content that separates them from the pack.”

On a conference call today with reporters, YouTube did not disclose a specific threshold for including virals in its partner program, but it does already have a program for targeting ads to videos it thinks it is about to go viral based on acceleration of viewing, favoriting and ratings (of course, only for partner videos).

YouTube is today inviting a thousand or more established virals to be part of the program, said Tom Pickett, the site’s director of online sales and operations. He said the two-year-old hit Battle at Kruger, which has more than 45 million views, still attracts thousands of views per day.

A side note: Fans of the JK Wedding Entrance Dance had noted that the bride and groom in that great recent viral didn’t profit from their own creativity, even after Sony essentially approved the video’s unauthorized use of Chris Brown’s “Forever” and had YouTube add revenue-sharing links to buy the official song — something YouTube had trumpeted as an example of new frontiers in monetization. A YouTube spokesperson noted today that the new one-off monetization program still wouldn’t put any coin in Jill and Kevin’s pockets, since it’s currently incompatible with the Content ID program that Sony is using for the video.

  1. Thanks for the post. Cool! I think that YouTude should change their strategy or they will loose everthing they have now!!!

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  2. Finally. I think this is a really good move for GooTube.

    “Videos that are detected as accumulating a large number of views quickly will be added, with their creator’s permission, to a limited form of the YouTube partner program, which was previously only available to creators with an established body of popular content.”

    I’m assuming that this is the same deal as the Partner
    Program: CPM and CPC rates are set on a case by case basis. But, I think both parties will be losing $ if they are negotiating while the video is going viral.

    Either way, I don’t think publishers are going to retire through the YouTube Partner Program. I believe most partners are on a $0.15 CPC plan with a 0.01% click through rate.

    -Michael Tapp

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  3. [...] muy bueno el análisis de Liz Gannes que profundiza un poco ese concepto y logra unas declaraciones oficiales; aunque, como siempre, lo [...]

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  4. [...] comes news from YouTube on plans to better monetize viral videos – those quirky, seemingly less than commercially-viable clips that seem to spring up out of [...]

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  5. So if you are lucky enough to get 45 million views after a safari in Africa you might make 45,000,000 X .0001 X.15 = $675 ? This does not seem to cover much in the way of expenses. The entertainment blogger Michael Buckley http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/business/media/11youtube.html doubled his earnings from 10 to 20 thousand dollars a month by including sponsorships and and product placements. Perhaps if the Kruger videographer had included a caption with his camera’s model number on it he could have made $1350.

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  6. [...] to unobtrusively eke out a dime, great. Other recent YouTube revenue-generating efforts include monetizing viral videos when they take off, partnering with FreeWheel to help partners serve their own ads, and allowing [...]

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  7. [...] Other YouTube virals have been approached for partnership. Were [...]

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