Solutions to “Free” vs “Paid” Debate About Online Video

Our friends at ReelSEO revealed the Pew data showing viewer’s surprising willingness to pay for online-video content. Until recently, I’ve been nervous about the notion of any subscription or pay-per-view model because it’s likely a “deal killer” for most viewers watching amateur creators. Sure I’ll pay to license/buy The Guild or Dr. Horrible, but less so for vloggers and amateurs (love ya, Charles Trippy, but “Internet Killed Television” is working quite well as free).

I’ve long maintained that the marketplace depended on advertising revenue since YouTube viewers are accustomed to free content. I believe the vast majority would protest a fee-based model — whether a token “pay-per-view” or modest subscription charge. Still, some would pay to avoid ads and access “extras.” But let’s try to avoid the dreaded but inevitable “one-two-punch” models ($7.99 Hulu plus– where the “plus” stands for ads) that subject viewers to both a subscription and advertisements. I’m still sometimes perplexed why I pay for CableTV and get subjected to advertisements. Then again, it worked with magazine subscriptions.

Note: this post is me sculpting fog, and is subject to errors in logic. I hope you’ll comment so we viewers (and advertisers) can “crowd source” a solution.

Paywall of Doom (click for source)

A solution to the free vs. paid debate can be simple to the viewer, but certainly has nuances. The trick is that the model can’t be black or white, or binary. We need to provide viewers with options based on the proven success of “freemium” in software. “Freemium” refers to a trial version with limited functionality that is free, coupled with a paid premium offering (usually offering more stuff we value) that sustains the provider’s economic needs. This differs from the loathed “paywall” model that suddenly restricts content access to paying subscribers, a model that would certainly flop in the democratic and entitlement era of YouTube. Here’s what I propose:

  1. FREE CONTINUES: Maintain free content for everyone with pre-rolls, Invids, banners, and Ding-Dong Fat Mamas (I made that last one up, but it’s not far from real terms like “takeovers” and “Fat Boys“).
  2. PAY MODEST FEE TO ENJOY “AD-FREE” VIEWING: If the ads become intrusive, the viewer could chose to “opt out” 0f ads by paying a token fee (but volatile and difficult to preemptively set). A small fee today could easily offset the majority of paltry per-view payments that YouTube and the Partners receive from advertisers. The ad prices are now artificially low since the medium is new, and the media market hasn’t yet realized video’s impact. The problem, of course, is that fee is based on the advertisers perceived value of the particular audience. But common… if CableTV figured it out, so too should Google.
  3. VIEWERS SUBSCRIBE BY VOLUME?: It would be difficult to offer a “subscription” fee at a channel-by-channel level. So this might better work as a comprehensive volume-based subscription. I imagine few Partners would have much luck creating an individual channel paywall. I’m one of a growing number of viewers, however, who would rather pay a few pennies for preroll-free videos and temporary “advertising immunity”… Those repetitive, unstoppable prerolls are what I find especially intrusive. In a great act of hypocrisy, I reluctantly subject my viewers to them because they’re far more profitable than InVid ads or penny-auction surrounding banners. To keep the solution fair, the user might purchase a bulk number of ad-free views in a beta (sufficient for a month’s worth of views, for instance) and continue if they wish.
  4. PAYWALL WITH EXTRAS: Another model, albiet more complex, would offer subscribers additional “value adds” such as higher quality content, earlier release dates, or “extras.” This undertaking would depend on the percentage of the audience that would be willing to pay, and that segment that would certainly be small at first (thus decreasing creator motivation to produce extras). While I can’t envision more than 5 percent of YouTube viewers currently opting to pay, it might qualify them as “super viewers,” and I’d expect most YouTube Partners and YouTube to find ways to reward them fairly as VIPs.

The reason YouTube and other platforms ought to experiment with these models is that this: The noble attempt to earn money to encourage more creators and generate site profitability is, I believe, beginning to create “audience fatigue.” These ads are, currently, generating only a fraction of what preroll ads are likely worth. They’re also diminishing in value to brands if the frequency gets excessive per viewer. So I encourage YouTube or a smaller site to conduct a trial with viewers — giving them a choice, and ensuring that the “holdouts” don’t feel unfairly deprived (for instance by having their video quality diminished from what they’ve grown accustomed).

A few tips, since this hasn’t been with success in web video yet (for some valid reasons):

  • This would have to be done carefully. As I mentioned, it would also be difficult for a viewer to select what “channels” to which they’d pay to subscribe sans ads– due to the varying individual tastes of viewers and the volatile quality/style/frequency of YouTube Partners. Unlike the relationship between network shows and fans, these relationships are less predictable. We also don’t want to create an awkward hierarchy among Partners (especially in a community forged with democracy and sharing). Again, if only one group (TheStation) created a perceived or real paywall, it would go over like a fart in church. Viewers resented when the comedic duo, Smosh, started moving viewers to Live Universe (alive?).
  • The most practical and turnkey approach would involve a website (YouTube) allowing viewers a generous monthly number of ad-free views to those who paid a very modest flat fee. I acknowledge that the “devil is in the details.” The worth of an ad-free view varies tremendously based on the perceived value of the Partner’s audience to an advertiser. Due to advertiser’s particular desire for certain demographics (not content, or your perceived quality of it), a view of ShaneDawson or Annoying Orange might command a radically lower CPM or CPC than, say, Mediocrefilms or Blame Society. So a pricing model would be difficult to set based on the viewer. I may be stretching here, but there’s a potential “self healing” solution: presumably wealthier, affluent individuals are worth more to advertisers (and perhaps more prone to paying). Teenagers can sometimes be worth less at a CPM, so they’d pay less or just suffer the ads. Yes I realize we’d all change our YouTube profile age to “born 1989” to “game the system,” but Google owns Doubleclick, kids. Don’t think it doesn’t know what you had for breakfast.
  • Finally, it would have to be as easy as buying a show via AppleTV or iTunes. If I’ve got to remember my Paypal and input a credit card, my price sensitivity changes drastically.

Thoughts? How much would you pay to skip a pre-roll or avoid them completely? Or have you grown immune to their presence? What if suddenly advertisers wanted to pay more than you would to avoid them? How would you propose YouTube and other platforms adjust to balance the needs of two important constituents: we viewers and the brands seeking our hearts and wallets?

Is Google Squandering YouTube’s Potential? Yes, So…

“YouTube’s future is being held back is the typical innovator’s dilemma, or rather, billionaire’s dilemma,” writesAshkan Karbasfrooshan is CEO of WatchMojo.com. I included some of Karbashfrooshan’s pieces in Beyond Viral, and he’s one of the authoritative writers about the online-video industry and media monetization.

Google's Mansion and its YouTube Slave House

Indeed YouTube is but a toy kiosk in the Google “Mall of Americas.” Before I provide my 2 cents, here are some important highlights of his recent piece (with my comments in italics). His article was spawned, in part, by a “Video Forecast 2011” piece by AlphaBird’s Alex Rowland.

  • Google is generating way too much money from its “traditional” search business ($30 billion) to care about radically owning the new video space (which is a small portion of the $2.5 billion Google counts as “display”).
  • While YouTube commands 45% of the video streams in the U.S., it is unlikely that it will generate $600 million from video ads in 2010 (or 40% x $1.5 billion). (Hulu, he says, did $240 million… and with a tiny percentage of streams).
  • YouTube correctly identified ad agencies and Fortune 500 marketers as those who would turn YouTube into a billion-dollar business.   However, since Google had little experience in selling to ad agencies before it acquired YouTube, growing video revenues took a lot of time to scale.
  • But instead of allowing content partners set prices based on actual market dynamics (demand and supply), YouTube implemented a set of obstacles and requirements that have made selling one’s YouTube channel all but impossible. YouTube did this, I believe, in an attempt to thwart content producers from owning the relationships with media planners and buyers.  After all, if YouTube opened up its site, it would lose contact with advertisers and become a mere dumb pipe. (Indeed Google has been known to dismiss the role of the media buyer as somewhat useless intermediary… however the “dumb pipe” of Google’s paid-search network isn’t so dumb).
  • Some would argue that if leading YouTube content provider Next New Networks’ indeed sold to YouTube (a rumor that spread in recent weeks, such as with this LA Times piece), it would be more of a capitulation than coup, for NNN relies so much on YouTube that it cannot possibly remain a going concern if it was not part of YouTube.

Now the WatchMojo CEO is a YouTube content provider, and has reduced the percentage of his company’s own inventory via YouTube from 45% to 15% in just the last past few months (by expanding his distribution beyond YouTube, since his YouTube audience has not contracted). He says YouTube is creating an “opening for others to win the bigger ad dollars,” and names DailyMotion, Metacafe and Facebook as potentials.

Now my thoughts: this isn’t a lone voice. I’ve heard this or similar perspective from content creators, advertising agencies, industry watch dogs and even some variations from YouTube/Google employees.

I would contend that Karbasfrooshan is more correct than controversial, and that Google is perhaps even “strategically ignoring” online-video’s near-term growth potential because it has far more critical business “levers.”

  • Google has a cash cow in search-engine advertising, and is broadening into other mediums especially mobile. I expect YouTube’s growth to continue (it’s usually the case with the market leader), but its share of online-video display dollars will decline dramatically.
  • Still, YouTube will continue to flourish via the middle market, lower maintenance, and “self serve” portion of the marketplace. This is almost certain without a significant “course correction” that does not appear imminent or within Google’s DNA.
  • If Facebook begins to display video and share advertising revenue with content creators, I would imagine most — from Discovery to Annoying Orange — would start posting on Facebook quickly, migrating their audience, and even staggering/delaying content to YouTube (the way some providers like The Onion and College Humor do… first posting on their own sites, then weeks later posting on YouTube).
  • Just as I don’t think my own content cannot survive and flourish outside YouTube (at least alone, hence my signing with Next New Networks), I do not believe Google is poised to grow or even maintain YouTube’s share of the online-video advertising budgets even remotely in relationship to its percent of video streams.
  • The exception will be small companies and middle markets, or advertisers who are prone to buying via Adwords. Currently the vast majority of YouTube advertising dollars (with the exception of individual campaigns and homepage takeovers) are almost entirely driven by Adsense Adwords. You heard me correctly, and that’s a sad statement about Google/YouTube’s ability to sell direct to brands and/or via partners and agencies.

Large content creators and brands will and should want a strong platform partner which puts the audience needs and preferences first, but theirs at a close second.

So the answer to this post’s title is “yes… Google is squandering YouTube’s potential right now.” It is almost inarguable truth that YouTube is not leveraging the strength of Google and its global salesforce, and not winning the hearts and minds of Madison Avenue. It follows, therefore, that the stewards of large digital media budgets are now seeking — and will continue to pursue — alternative online-video advertising options for innovative programs beyond prerolls.

I’d expect to see AOL and Yahoo, if not Facebook, knipping away at Google’s online-video Achilles heal. Google, after all, is not a media property at heart… it’s a sleuth of engineers producing innovative change. Given that identity, Google can’t be underestimated as a bold market force that will continue to shake the online-video industry in ways far more interesting than hundred-million-dollar media buys, which are akin to vending-machine revenue at a casino.

In the meantime, content creators should:

  • Ask YouTube to facilitate and encourage them to prevent agency buyers from feeling YouTube’s thorns. Likewise they need to aggregate to achieve sufficient strength to command the interest of digital buyers unless their niche is remarkable.
  • Maintain good relationships with YouTube people, recognizing that many of YouTube’s shortcomings are out of their control.
  • Diversify their distribution to include some of the smaller properties… especially those that grow. YouTube’s incentive to innovate for advertisers depends on market competition.
  • Derive income directly via sponsorships… which is no longer discouraged by YouTube, a video platform.
  • Pay close attention to what Google is doing with online video that has far greater potential than YouTube or any individual media property alone.

How Much Money Do They Make on YouTube: Exposed

Renetto: The roundest face since Karl Pilkington

Renetto. Paul Robinette. Remember him? He makes about $55 a day from YouTube, and I once stalked him and shaved my head to assume his persona. He’s one of the guys behind one of the most interesting video website stats and mobile applications you’re bound to love and forget. It’s called MyU2B. See– I had to look at the website just to get that stupid name right.

The good news? If you’re an OCD creator or media buyer, than this is (and you can quote the guy who wrote the book on YouTube) “the crack cocaine of video statistics.” The bad news? The name is so damned forgettable I want to punch Paul Robinett in his branding boob. Half the reason I’m writing this post is so I can find his website searching the many alternative names my brain has given MyU2B: u2be, myu2be, ub40, u2b4, my2be u2be u2bme, and finally “renetto, youtube, stats, website, with, stupid, name.”

MyU2B iPhone App kicks the ass of YouTube's default mobile viewer.

MyU2B is my indispensable iPhone YouTube viewing app because it’s incredibly easy to sort by my favorite creator’s (people, channels, accounts, profiles) most recent videos. This is a common but impossible task via the caveman-like primitive search functions on YouTube’s own mobile app, and I call that a “deal breaker” or “functional obsolescence” for any regular viewer. MyU2B tells me exactly how many videos my favorite person or channel has posted since I last checked them. It solved a problem most don’t yet know we have.

The app (free and $1.99) also allows me to “super subscribe” to select people (although I haven’t figured out how to delete people like the incorrect jaaaaaa). There are about 2-3 dozen people I don’t want to ever miss, and for that I prefer this app to using YouTube on a computer. On YouTube I’ve “oversubscribed” like many people, so I miss some fresh videos by my favorite peeps. It really sucks to not be current on some of my favorite creators or friends.

The MyU2B stats site, although new and somewhat buggy, is entirely different (yet shares the horrible name). It gives you some pretty decent estimates of how much money each channel/person makes on could make (per comments below) on YouTube, and even sorts estimated revenue by individual video. That’s badass, even if it’s assuming CPMs (revenue per view) that are impossibly inconsistent and volatile. It’s a cool tool just to track who’s getting views and comments… instead of the somewhat archaic method of tracking subscribers… like on VidStatsx. Vidstatsx is an equally crappy named but remarkably useful website, though the latter is a bit too focused on subscriptions (which is not nearly driver of daily views it once was). And tip from Zipster08, who I never miss (despite the mocked screen shot): allow MyU2B to load completely before searching for someone. (Zipster checks hourly). MyU2B doesn’t yet allow you to bookmark or link to a specific search string, but it does index more than 11,000 individual channels.

See below for an example… are they the potential estimates accurate? I don’t know. YouTube doesn’t give me reporting this precise, but I know for a fact that CPMs by individual videos for the same creator can vary from pennies to dollars — by individual video.

Since we YouTube Partners are all contractually obliged to conceal our revenue, it’s hard to know if it’s over or understating revenue/earnings. But feel free to comment (anonymously) if you want to share feedback on its precision! I’m glad it’s not accurate, because I don’t want people thinking about the money I earn from YouTube (it’s equally embarrassing whether it’s high, low or accurate).

MyU2Be (or whatever it's called) can easily track estimated earnings by creator and by video

Finally, let’s help these useful resources with their branding. Anything, including the word “pizzle,” would be better.

Bad Video News in Threes: Jumpcut is RIP. Revver Not Paying. Metacafe Cursed.

Bad news for the little guys of online video. Jumpcut.com, Yahoo Video’s video and photo site, is closing. Revver has stopped paying creators. Metacafe is cursed.

Online-video tombstones

  • Today Jumpcut sent messages to its users to alert them to the demise of Jumpcut. “Very soon, we’ll be releasing a software utility that will allow you to download the movies you created on Jumpcut to your computer. We’ll send instructions to the email address on your Jumpcut account when the download utility is available,” the company said.
  • Meanwhile, as reported by StreamingMedia.com, Revver.com has stopped paying its creators. Former founder and the most huggable guy in online video, Steven Starr, is busy with his film, “Flow: For Love of Water.”
  • And Metacafe? Well it’s just cursed.

But don’t panic. Neilsen reports that online-video usage is up (see pdf report)… YouTube, according to Neilsen, fetched 5.5 billion views in March (and some industry analysts claim that’s under reporting). The market is “sorting itself out.” Like any industry, we’ll have two or three major options, and the rest will vanish or, better yet, go niche.

At least we still have HuluTube. And Eefoof. And the Scottish lady from “Britain’s Got Talent” that’s all the rage for her Les Mis song.

picture-5

You Spend More Time Watching Online Videos Than Having Sex

We spend more time watching online videos than having sex.

laptop versus sex

If you’re an average online-video watcher, then today you’ll watch about 2 videos, and spend 6 minutes doing so. You’ll most likely be on YouTube, but if you’re watching long-form television on Hulu you’re probably skewing the average by watching for much longer per session/view.

People watching online video in the U.S. now watch more than three hours per month, according to new data from Nielsen Online. Studies suggest people, on average, have sex once a week. My sources on sexual frequency and duration are a bit sketchy here, so you can do your own digging.

So, friends, you’re probably watching online-videos for more time each month than you are having sex — depending, of course, on whether you’re one of those 2.7 minute “slam bam thank you mam” YouTube people, or if you prefer the longer forplay of “Hulu-like” engagements.

And I’m not sure all of that online-video viewing is going to help you in the sex department, but it’s a more reliable, albeit often less climaxic, alternative.

Check out Stephen Shankland’s “Online Viewing Clears Three Hours Per Month.”  Neilsen is the source. Do you know how silly that headline will look by the end of the year? First, we’ll have a more difficult time what’s occuring “online” versus “offline” as devices merge. Second, because that three hours will grow dramatically as people begin to consume an episode of Lost (which is, by my crude calculations, roughly the same time it would take to consume about 20 or so short videos on YouTube).

Here are some other notable points from Shanland, and a pretty chart so you can see that YouTube is dominating viewers and videos viewed. But this is going to change when we look at duration spent per site. After all, Hulu has longer-form content, and Yahoo’s 25 million users could, with a little prompting by Yahoo, start watching more video. Hulu has more ad inventory than it has sold, and one can only assume the ad inventory isn’t sufficient for Yahoo to compel its visitors to consume video. Or perpahs Yahoo visitors are busy enjoying display ads and drinking their Tabs or Mr. Pibbs.

  • March viewing rose 13 percent to 191 minutes.   Total video streams viewed increased 9 percent from 8.9 billion to 9.7 billion. And the number of videos per user grew 7 percent from about 70 to 74. 
  • If time spent is going up faster than videos streamed, that means a) we’re tolerating 2.7-minute YouTube clips, or b) Longer form content is skewing the average, and we’re continuing to expect our YouTube clips to be 2-3 minutes. I suspect the latter, but Neilsen and the Shankenizer aren’t saying. video share by website

The market share:

  1. Google’s YouTube continues to dominate the category, with 5.5 billion videos and 89 million people using the service in the U.S.
  2. Hulu is in second place with 348 million videos and 9 million users.
  3. Yahoo is in third place with 232 million videos, but it’s got more users than Hulu, about 25 million users.
  4. Revver is not ranking.

 

Former Top YouTuber Leads Vlogging Revolution

Vloggerheads launchesFor months, YouTube Cewebrity Paul Robinette (Renetto) has been posting video blogs (vlogs) about his discontent on YouTube. He has criticized the site for how it handles the small but vocal video community, and has stirred up drama with the grace of an Olympic gymnist.

In the past few weeks, Robinette quietly launched Vloggerheads.com with 250 plus fellow vloggers. I previously reported that he was launching RenettoTube (see site), but apparently he had some help from branding experts.

The site, which was created using ning, is by invite only (info@renetto.com), and has already banned at least one controversial YouTube poet. The site has rules of ettiquette and is working to keep out unsavory “haters,” “trolls” and “pedophiles.” Fortunately that crowd has its own site (utubedrama.com). And don’t pretend you don’t surf for your name there weekly.

Renetto, who shaved my head years ago when I desperately wanted to be him, once topped the charts of YouTube but has fallen down the top 100 even faster than Nalts (which is rather sad given that I “jumped the shark” more than a year ago).

Renetto is loved and hated, but often the subject of discussion (see outtake clip that spoofs Renetto from a video I shot this week with YouTube Whore MrSafety). He’s best-known for his Mentos parody (nearly 10 million views) and was quoted regularly in the early media coverage of YouTube. In late 2006, Robinette rallied in support of YouTube-challenger Live Video, then changed his mind and brought about McCarthy-like challenge to those who abandoned YouTube (and took great pride in helping unravel LiveVideo). See NY Post article for more.

Vloggerheads is being listed as a “placeholder” site with larger goals. However it’s already attracting some of the YouTubers who don’t have top rankings but are staples among the inner circle of a vibrant community. My “poster child” of the online-video community (Nutcheese) is already addicted and that’s slown down her visits to Stumble! by 26%.

With just 800 videos to date and no apparent revenue model, Vloggerheads won’t soon be a threat to YouTube. But it’s an alternative virtual city where “hard core” community members are gathering, debating, communing and creating drama…

A smaller pond for those feeling lost in an increasingly commercialized YouTube?

Here’s my social commentary on vlogging. I wasn’t too sarcastic was I?

P.S. A reporter from Wired.com contacted Paul and said she heard about him from Nalts’ blog. That’s the power I have in media. Like TechCrunch I can make or break a company. Arington eat my pie hole you viralvideovillain promoter.

Kevin is a poopie head

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discuss!

Battered User Syndrome: YouTube and Online Monopolies

Want your Gmail to replace your YouTube messaging? Sorry- but
here are some pretty thumb icons you can use to rate comments!

Who would have thought the market would be so beholden to YouTube’s inside-out design… half way through 2008? By now, I would have predicted that Web 2.0 would offer us endless options for customizing a video experience using someone else’s player. They can pay for the bandwidth and make ad revenue, but please allow us to customize, widgitize, and private-labelize.  You know- the open source, altruistic dream that borne Revver, and its open source API (whatever the hell that is).

Nope. Maybe that’s in the Web 3.0 upgrade. Not now. No soup for you.

Alas, market dominance means you innovate on your own terms. YouTube and Google were designed to solve a problem its founders felt, but the market didn’t quite know it needed. That works well when you’re in start-up mode or innovating, but can inadvertently spawn arrogance that hardcore users begin to resent. I’ve been an informal adviser to several smaller video-sharing sites, and found it very rewarding when those sites responded to our needs (or at least convinced us they were). Note: I disclose these relationships and they’re not paid — otherwise I’d lose my objectivity on them. And risk hating one less than another.

Now lately I’ve been confronted with some needs that are on the edge of YouTube’s functionality. So I did what any YouTube Partner would do: I went to both my dedicated YouTube technical liaison, Eric, and community representative, Brenda, to solve these issues. 
No I’m just kidding. They don’t take my calls either.

No, friends, we’ve got battered user syndrome.We don’t expect YouTube to fix itself. It’s tired after a long day of work, and we did spill its beer on the counter. So we’ll search for our own tools we can use on top of YouTube… despite it. The bad news is that we’re limited to offering this to people via channels we can control. The good news is that they solve problems that YouTube doesn’t see, doesn’t care about, or views as off strategy. The more bad news is that we don’t know what tools are safe or effective.

Suppose you had a cheese playlist and wanted to randomize it (like the Oreo contest entries) so each video gets a fair shot at being first. Or maybe you’re using the playlists as a free, copyright-violating jute box. Well you can’t do that. You’d want the Randomize YouTube Playlist script (mind you I’m not vouching for these things- I wouldn’t know what to do with them even if I could get past the porn ads and download them).

Then there’s the YouTube Search Script. I suppose that one allows you to customize search and embed videos based on parameters? Then there’s the “YouTube Script” which represents itself as a poor man’s custom YouTube (with that impossible promise, I’m guessing it’s a virus that turns your monitor into a camera and broadcasts your life 24/7 in Stickam). I am having fun playing with Overlay.tv (which is kinda like YouTube’s overlay tools on steroids). But I may do a promotion video for Overlay.tv… so more on that later. And don’t give me crap about promoting them because it’s like a skateboarder endorsing a skateboard brand. It’s cool. It’s why I pimp TubeMogul for free.

Anyway- share your own YouTube hacks below (not the zillion YouTube rippers, thank you). And don’t expect Eric or Brenda to call you back. Nope. Leave it to Web 2.0 to foster a monopoly where we love a website even when it beats us. We deserve the beating, though. We didn’t behave, and the website is under a lot of stress lately.

P.S. I dare someone to turn this post into a video blog and make it look like they’re not scripted. I’ll add a link here if you do. You gotta do it like Pat Condell… with articulation and enough emotion that you don’t look like you’re reading.

P.P.S. Domestic violence is not funny. Go get help, please, if you experience it. I am just using the analogy to exaggerate the learned helplessness we face with some technologies.

Metacafe Gives Viewers Wikipedia-Like Editing Control of Videos

It’s maddening when a creator tricks viewers with misleading thumbnails, titles, tags and descriptions. Until now, we’ve counted on the website’s search engine to solve that problem. But even YouTube’s Google-like sophistication still opens the door to tricks by Viral Video Villians.

Google learns from its users, and I imagine the YouTube search engine quietly gives primacy to videos that meet criteria we never see… such as open rate, duration of average view, related videos, and other metrics that YouTube can track to determine if the video is perceived as relevant or “good.”

Metacafe — without the funding or mother Google to help — has created a clever alternative. It’s giving edit rights to the viewer in true Wiki style. Just as anyone can edit a Wikipedia entry, Metacafe viewers can now edit the title, tags, description and even flag misleading thumbnails or duplicates (I flagged a “Farting in Public” ripoff just now). This is hard to explain, and a video is worth a million views. Watch Sherry in the video here to see how it works. I love this demo and not just because I make a surprise cameo.

I hope Metacafe doesn’t allow its creators to switch the hosts of it’s Metacafe Unfiltered series? Imagine how much better you could make this interview with KipKay, who has made more than $100,000 in advertising revenue on the website.

This begs a lot of questions. I can report a misleading thumbnail (the image you see representing a video before you play it), for instance, but I suspect human intervention is required, and perhaps that requires a few people reporting it. I can edit someone else’s video description, which introduces some risks of abuse initially (for instance, I could add my name to popular video tags but I’m sure it would erode a trust score and have little benefit to me). Ultimately the community will police the community, and that’s theoretically better and less expensive than editors or complex algorithms.


Wikicafe Beta: Hate Typos?The best bloopers are a click away

 

Where Are the YouTube Ads? (Insert Cricket Sound)

The biggest mystery of YouTube partners (those who share in advertising revenue generated by their videos) is yet unsolved. My post about Sxephil’s reaction generated a lot of discussion, but there’s still a big unanswered question….

Are the YouTube ads missing because advertisers aren’t buying? Or is there a technical glitch prohibiting them?

BrokeEither option is sad news. If YouTube can let its only revenue-producing functionality die, then that doesn’t speak well for the company’s priorities. If advertising inventory is low on the world’s biggest online-video site, that’s a sad statement about the economy or marketer’s recognition of online video.

No e-mails from YouTube. Nothing on the blog. Lots of YouTube partners seeing no Invideo ads, and wondering if they should hold their videos until something improves.

Often our burning questions about a YouTube matters go unanswered because the answer would perhaps create greater scrutiny to the question. However I like the proactive and transparent approach… “Hey guys, we have a problem, and here’s what we’re doing to solve it and prevent it in the future.”

In the meantime you viewers can enjoy your videos without interruption and know that we creators will start holding onto our day jobs a big tighter.

And I’m totally bumming because I finally got Spencer (the Farting in Public kid) back in action yesterday night with “Will You Be My Prom Date?” and it’s currently the #4 highest-rated video of the day. And the recent “Cool Fish!” was seen more than 30,000 times in the past couple days but doesn’t appear to be making money for me or YouTube.

And now I just found out that my stupid “How to Make a Viral Video While Driving” is on the homepage of YouTube. Unmonetized. 🙁