YouTube to Bring In $500M This Year?

In a story about the effect of Google losing exec Tim Armstrong to AOL, the Wall Street Journal quotes an analyst saying YouTube will have $500 million in revenue in 2009.

YouTube…will account for only roughly 3% of Google’s net revenue this year, or $500 million, estimated Youssef Squali, an analyst at Jefferies & Co.

Is that right? We don’t know how much YouTube made last year, but we do know it wasn’t that material to Google; “[W]e have yet to realize significant revenue benefits from our acquisitions of dMarc Broadcasting (Audio Ads) and YouTube,” was the official wording. Multiple estimates from outsiders pegged the 2008 number at around $200 million.

So $500 million would be a more than healthy increase, especially in this down economy — though the numbers we’re talking about are still not Google-scaled. The site has been seriously ramping up its advertising efforts, adding pre-rolls, search ads, and affiliate links. Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently evaluated YouTube’s business as “halfway” there. So perhaps he’s hoping on $1 billion?

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