This week, YouTube founder Chad Hurley had set up a storm by announcing that YouTube is planning to share its revenue with its users. This has, over the week, generated so much of a heated discussion about how YouTube is now turning to become the undisputable leader, which it already is, and how this is going to stop users from using any other video sharing services.
The plan, so far, seems to be this. YouTube is monetized by the Google ads that appear alongside the videos. These videos are both, uploaded and viewed by the users, and YouTube plainly serves as the platform for all this action. So, it does not make sense if YouTube, or rather Google have all the money to themselves. Also, competitors like MetaCafe were trying to breathe down the neck by paying users for their content. So, it naturally necessitates YouTube to also help its users make money.
There have been quite a few ‘theories’ doing the rounds on how YouTube plans to monetize in the first place. Adsense ads alone might not help, since a video sharing site can generally only expect lesser clicks on ads than a text based content site. It is speculated that YouTube might have small ads preceding actual videos.
That being said, it becomes important to see the roadblocks ahead for YouTube in its current proposal. Firstly, you should look at the demographics of usage of YouTube. Visitors between 12-17 years are more than 1.5 times to visit YouTube than the average web user. And this young user base means that the chances of these youngsters clicking on ads, simply to expect a larger sum to pocket becomes much higher. It is time for Google to decide if they are going to generate revenue for users from the text ads or not. If they indeed intend to do so, then it shall not be long before their Adwords clients start to cry foul.
Another important aspect is the sheer number of uploaded videos. At present, any important video, be that of Saddam Hussain’s hanging or a sporting action clip are duplicated widely across YouTube. It would not be very wrong to say then that of the 65000 videos that YouTube claims, are being uploaded everyday, a majority of them are duplicates. And all this is at a time when those users who upload the content gain nothing but user comments.
One ‘theory’ regarding monetization suggests that video uploaders could be monetized based on their popularity. That would mean more duplication of content by users expecting a high popularity and hence a good revenue from Google. So, while this may dramatically increase the number of videos uploaded everyday on YouTube, it shall also correspondingly reduce the quality of videos.
The third aspect is that of copyrights. YouTube is primarily automated with only little intervention by humans (in case of spams, etc). Now, Google cannot monetize with copyrighted stuff, which means that now there should be a human check each time a video is uploaded to see if it is a copyrighted material. If yes, either delete it, or atleast do not put ads on them, lest they be sued.
Now, these aspects make revenue sharing seem to be a costlier proposition than it looks from the outset.
Means to Monetize:
It is costlier if Google backs off from monetization now. Monetization from videos is here to exist. But it is the methodology of ads that is to be discussed. One thing that holds loyal YouTube users apprehensive is about the quality of the website degrading due to more and more vents for ads on the website. Adbrite currently offers unintrusive ads on videos. The user gets to see the ad only when he/she hovers the mouse pointer over the top section of the video frame. This is an idea for ‘unintrusive’ ads on YouTube, which shall be better than an ad preceding the actual video.
But then, fears of ad clicks still linger. A better solution is what I first observed from an Indian news channel called CNN-IBN. All videos available on the website are free of ads of any sort on the video frame (that is, excluding the Adsense ads). However, any embedded video of the same on any other website or a blog is preceded by a still image of the TV channel logo. Similarly, YouTube could prevent loyal YouTube visitors from being disheartened by keeping the
YouTube website as it is now. Presenting ads of any sort, be it like the one in Adbrite or CNN-IBN could be on the embedded videos alone. This will also help YouTube in several ways.
Only relatively popular videos are embedded. This shall save users from viewing ads before videos which they might not enjoy.
It also gives Google an opportunity to integrate Adsense accounts with the new form of monetizing that YouTube offers. Since bloggers are encouraged on creating Adsense accounts, a monetizing scheme based on user’s video activity, similar to that on Adsense ads will be easier to monitor. This will also mean bloggers shall be encouraged in embedding videos from YouTube over other Video sharing sources. Also, more and more bloggers shall tend to put up videos on their blogs, dramatically increasing the usage of YouTube, and Adsense accounts.
There is no need to employ extra staff to monitor abuse. The Adsense Support team shall now be responsible for this. This is not to say that no new staff is required, but just that taking care of abuses being the core competency of the Adsense Support team, it will ensure that there is not much redundancy in work profiles.