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YouTube Sells Ads on “Hundreds of Millions of Video Views” Per Month; Adds AdSense to Content ID

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Michael Learmonth over at Ad Age managed to get a couple of pointers out of YouTube (s GOOG) about its ad-selling efforts. According to YouTube product management director Shishir Mehrotra, the site is selling ads against “hundreds of millions of video views” per month, a number he described as more views than its nearest competitor, Fox Interactive, even has per month.

picture-22Using those clues, the scrappy Learmonth turned to comScore’s February numbers, which had Fox Interactive (s NWS) at 463 million U.S. views, or 8.7 percent of YouTube’s 5.3 billion. Therefore, his best guess is that YouTube is selling ads on at least 9 percent of its video views in the U.S.

A spokesperson for YouTube would only tell us that it doesn’t think a percent is a meaningful measure (I disagree!), and echoed Mehrotra’s comment to Learmonth that outside estimates of YouTube monetizing 3-4 percent of video views are “grossly inaccurate.”

Also today, YouTube made an attempt to amp up partner revenues from “claimed content.” To date, partners could use YouTube’s Content ID program to find unauthorized uploads of their content, and then they could elect to show banner and display ads alongside the uploads rather than taking them down. As of today, as TechCrunch reported, YouTube is now also rolling out contextually targeted text ad overlays (aka AdSense for Video) on those videos (see the YouTube-provided screenshot above).

Contextual text ads result in better click-through rates than display ads, said YouTube, so the thought is that the site’s 600-plus Content ID users will rake in more dough.

The AdSense for Video ads are targeted based on user-inputted text and metadata about each video. My concern would be that user uploads don’t necessarily have great metadata, especially since users sometimes try to obfuscate titles to keep them from being taken down. A YouTube spokesperson said he thought users were more interested in having their content found than keeping it away from the copyright police.

Just in case it needs to be said, the AdSense for Video initiative won’t affect calculations of what percent of video views are being monetized; it will only provide incremental revenue on already-monetized videos. However, if it’s tremendously successful, it could help convince more publishers to join the Content ID program.

A recent Credit Suisse report projected that YouTube would generate $240 million in revenue this year, but those revenues would be overshadowed by an expected $711 million in expenses. Screen Digest predicted YouTube would only take in $120 million in revenue this year.

5 Responses to “YouTube Sells Ads on “Hundreds of Millions of Video Views” Per Month; Adds AdSense to Content ID”

  1. Neno Brown

    Based on the ad points, UGC will consume the site for those who want to add content for content sake in order to build advert driven chump change,

    Professional content will not be able to make a Sopranos type film delivered to YT and make any real returns.

    YT copyright infringments are not resolved by the “Content ID” gimick, as content ID is easily circumvented.

  2. The idea that “the platform that serves the most ads is king” is flawed.

    Its far more valuable to serve ads that are intelligently targeted and combined with affiliate links to e-commerce sites that guarantee %s to all of the parties that have helped shape and design the web traffic.

  3. I’m frustrated by people not seeing the difference between UGC and YouTube amateur partners. The pros and amateurs in YouTube’s partner programs are similarly vetted to ensure ad-friendly content and no copyright infringements. So partner content — whether by a pro or a one-person show– should be equally safe. In fact, studies will eventually show that ads perform better on LESS professional content. Why? It’s easier for an ad to distract a “Nalts” viewer than one watching the hysterical “The Onion” clips.