Top 10 Stats About Online-Video Usage and Advertising for 2016 and Beyond

What do you need to know about online video for 2016? Here’s a convenient “round up” for your viewing pleasure.

Here's a guy looking at mobile video. It's trending.
Here’s a guy looking at mobile video. It’s trending.
  1. Mobilization. Mobile advertising is growing 66% and desktop is just 5 percent. What’s interesting to me is that 36% of our time is spent on TV, and 39% of the ad spending is there. But we’re spending 25% of our self on mobile, while only 12% of ad spending is on mobile. Implication: watch for way more advertising in your apps, on mobile-enabled site, and perhaps even while you text. (KPCB Internet Trends, June 1, 2016)
  2. Mobile vs desktop tie. By 2020, online-video advertising will be about 50% mobile and 50% desktop.
  3. Pay TV is stuggling. About 86% US Internet users think pay TV is too expensive. Some forecast a decline (source: TVFreedom, : SNL Kagan as cited in Video Advertising Bureau, 2015).
  4. TV ain’t dead. According to eMarketer “TV will continue to grow and remain the top video advertising format through 2020.” That said, our time with digital video (versus TV) changed in 2012 and the gap has widened, with digital outpacing TV (Nielsen, eMarketer).
  5. Netflix is rocking it for time. The streaming time of Netflix is growing insanely. 600M hours in 2009 and 42 billion hours in 2015. And originals are the reason (Netflix and Cowen & Company, 2016)
  6. Digital Video Ad Spending is Growing But Slowing. We’re seeing about 30 percent growth in digital video ad spending this year, but in the next few years the growth will slow somewhat…. Down to 20 percent next year and about 10% by 2020. Still growing, just not as radically.
  7. Watch out. We're gonna block that online-video ad on mobile.
    Watch out. We’re gonna block that online-video ad on mobile.

    Video ads need help. Many Online video ads are ineffective. About 80% of us mute video ads, and the majority (62%) are annoyed with pre-rolls. And 93% consider using ad-blocking software (Unruly Future Video Survey, July 2015). Given mobile use behavior, online videos are going to have to adapt.

  8. Block You. You know that thing about mobile users being annoyed by ads? The growth of mobile ad blocking is happening radically faster than desktop (as cited by the KPCB report, PageFair & Priori Data 2016 Adblocking Report.).
  9. What works in mobile video ads? Keep it less than 10 seconds, shoot it for mobile, and try for full-screen delivery. (Snapchat and other sources).
  10. What makes for good video ads? Unruly’s recommendations: be authentic, entertain, evoke emotion, go personal/relatable, be useful, give viewers control… and work with sound off and in non-interruptive ad format.

See more at eMarketer. Or KPCB for internet trends. Or Invisia for more.

Want to Reach Minorities: YouTube Stars Have Audiences

“Who Are Today’s YouTube Stars?” is a recent story title from The Washington Post

Hayley Tsukayama also wrote a Post article about minorities reaching more individuals than popular television shows:

…Almost most each of (Kevin Wu’s comedy) shows command at least 2 million views — rivaling the nightly TV audiences of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

A disproportionate share of YouTube’s top personalities are minorities, writes Tsukayama. Yet the popular shows on mainstream television have stars are largely white. “These minority-produced, home-grown shows are drawing massive audiences — the top one has 5.2 million subscribers — enough to attract the attention of major advertisers.”Ryan higa youtube minority

Ryan Higa (above) is a Japanese American comedian and that top YouTuber mentioned by Tsukayama. Higa has the second among all YouTube channels, with videos viewed 1.1 billion times.

Michelle Phan, the Vietnamese American beauty guru, is 20th among YouTube’s most popular channels, has become a spokeswoman for Lancome.

And here’s the clincher:

Nearly 80 percent of minorities regularly watch online videos, compared with less than 70 percent of whites, the Pew Internet & American Life Project says.

Do YOU Have What It Takes to Become (and Stay) a YouTube Star?

I’ve written plenty about how to become a YouTube star (see free eBook v2 and “Beyond Viral“), but today’s post is the first of a series about the persistence of some top YouTube talent. It’s one thing to break through the clutter and develop a following, but quite another thing to maintain it… the latter takes consistency, adaptability, time, ability to spot trends, endurance, patience, loads of work, and thick skin.

You don't become a top YouTube star for talent and charisma alone. And you don't stay there long without some mysterious skills and character. So what's the common thread?

Yesterday I sent a note to about 20 top YouTube stars… focusing mostly on the independent acts who didn’t have a large fan base until YouTube (that excluded offline “real” stars, musicians, and production companies). If you’re interested in my e-mail to them, select “more” below.

The key question I asked them is simply, “what keeps you going.”

Now I’d like to share 3 of the early responses (part 1 of a series), and ask you WillVideoForFood readers the same question in a different way. What do YOU think separates the leading YouTube creators from the rest of us? Is it talent, consistency, interaction with fan base, variety, adaptability, omni-presence? Or is the underlying currency, as Producer Fred Seibert observed to me, “narcissism”? I don’t think Fred meant that word to carry the negative baggage, rather he presented it as a base characteristic of enduring entertainers… it’s what allows them to overcome the many barriers and exert uncompromising effort.

Thanks to Brittani, Rhett and Charles for giving us some insights into how passion, teamwork and community serve them. Stay tuned for more from WheezyWaiter, Michael Buckley, VenetianPrincess, Hank Green, KipKay, Edbassmaster, and others. Their responses may surprise you!

1) BrittaniLouiseTaylor: Passion

“What keeps me going?  Simple, passion!! I am an actress, and I get to cast myself and play whatever role I want.  My creativity is not dependent on knowing the right person, being at the right place at the right time, I am in control of my destiny. You have to stay positive and keep the passion that you had when you first started making videos.  Being on Youtube is like being in a relationship, you have to put work into maintaining it and keeping your interest. You hit patches where you are like “Uhhhh what video should I do next.”  Most of the time I have some crazy idea, but if I have to do something last minute because I have had a busy week, I do it last minute.  I am determined to have a new video every Saturday and Sunday, if it means me staying up all night that is what I’ll do! Numbers shouldn’t matter, Youtube is always changing and things will go up and down.  You have to do it foryou.  At the end of the day, did you like the video?  Are you happy with it?  That is all that matters!

HUGS, BLT 😀

2) RhettandLink: Power of Two

RhettAndLink's Rhett were determined to support themselves from their passion, and attribute their persistence, in part, to the partnership
Thanks for asking! I think the reason is three-fold, and in no particular order.  The first reason is that once web video became our primary source of income (and I’m talking almost ALL of our income from 2007-2010), we developed a business model based on fairly consistent content.  So our time and energy were all focused on making videos.

The second reason is that we keep having new ideas.  We keep coming up with stuff that we want to create.  A related reason is that our success isn’t based on one genre.  We’ve tried a lot, and a fair amount has worked. The last reason is the fact that there are two of us. We are much less likely to quit because we can motivate one another. Thanks! -Rhett

3) CharlesTrippy: Community

Hey man!! Hows it going on your end?! Ive been watching your unclenalts videos and I am like “dude, when did the kids get so old!!” insane! (your fam is the original tards! haha). What keeps me going? Yah, you kind of nailed it with your points but I think there are a few reasons that keep me motivated.

I’d say the community plays a HUGE part – just when I get discouraged or frustrated I go back and read the comments and it seems to pop me back in place, you know? I also think about the future and I love the fact that i’ll have these videos/days documented. We’ve been lucky enough to pretty much film Alli and I’s entire relationship (we started like 5 monthsor less after dating) so to have that means a lot to us. Also, I don’t want to say it’s really motivation but the fact that Youtube/Google pays it’s creators keeps me motivated because I can invest all of my time in it and still make a life for myself and my family 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy I know you posted daily (sometimes twice) for a very long time so I know you can relate. I think above all the community is the #1 source of encouragement and motivation for me…. -Charles Trippy

CharlesTrippy had a large following, and grew it to a new level when he joined his fiance Alli in the daily "Internet Killed TV" series

Coming soon: Responses I’ve already received from YouTube’s most-subscribed: WheezyWaiter, Michael Buckley, VenetianPrincess, Hank Green, KipKay, Edbassmaster.

To see my note to these peeps, click more. And don’t forget to comment yourself: what do YOU think it takes?

One of Top 25 Most Innovative Digital Publishers

Congratulations, dear reader. We’ve made the cut. We’re one of the top 25 most digital publishers (David Garland “Rise to the Top”). Scoble made it too, so we have some good company.

I use “we” in a collective sense, since I probably wouldn’t be in my 5th or 6th year of publishing without you. Yeah I’m pretty sure without your intellectual comments I’d grow weary. And I’m certain that if I didn’t see some of the mindless and humorous ones I’d have long since regressed to a newsletter only my mama reads.

Have a glass of champagne, or celebrate in whatever way you see fit. Heck, while you’re here… how will you celebrate your victory?

You and I made the cut, baby. Barely, but we made it.

Online-Video & Entrepreneurship

If you’re an entrepreneur interested in the Internet marketing and online-video, you’ll want pick up “Smarter, Faster and Cheaper,” which is a refreshing take on the space by mini-maven David Garland. My first impression of Garland, a fellow Wiley author, was jaded by his “as seen on ABC” logo and cheesy pocket hanky. I thought he might be one of those multi-level marketers or “get rich quick” dudes, who suck you into a spam vortex and start pimping eBooks. But we love ya anyway, Joel Comm. And congrats on the weight loss!

Anyway, oh contraire on that first impression. During our 1-hour chat before this interview (see The Rise To the Top) I discovered he’s quite a likable chat. He also told me I was harder to pin down then the celebrity authors who endorsed his book, which was a sad reminder I need a virtual assistant.

Check out Garland, and enjoy this little interview. It’s worth the click. I’d embed it here, but the mini maven deserves some more traffic, even if he’s got loads.

David Garland interviewing Nalts, who lacks the pocket handkerchief but does the best he can.

FREE “Cliff’s Notes” of My YouTube-Marketing Book

Beyond Viral: All the benefits of Ambien without side effects

So you’re too busy to buy a copy of my book (Beyond Viral), but maybe want a quick scan of the topics? Here are some of the key points addressed in each of the 18 chapters… these digital documents also identify the many experts who contributed to the book.

The cheat guide to Beyond Viral

From Daisy Whitney (This Week in Media), Mark Robertson (ReelSEO) and Ben Relles (Barely Political/Next New Netowkrs)… to  “YouTube Stars” like CharlesTrippy, VenetianPrincess, RhettandLink, ShayCarl, Mediocrefilms, and Daneboe/Annoying Orange. Thanks to all of you!

Here’s the Beyond Viral (www.beyondviral.com) on Scribd and Slideshare.

It’s called a “sneak preview,” but I hope you’ll read it and consider picking up the actual book. There was no way I could have summarized it in 5-20 pages because the book has loads of examples and details.

AdAge Celebrates YouTube Sellouts

AdAge called out the biggest YouTube sellouts— those known for sponsored videos for top brands. Naturally my headline would have read “YouTube’s Most Prolific Sponsored Artists” had I been included in the list. For those of you whose nipples don’t get pointy when you hear words like “advertising, marketing, Mad Men, spot, creative brief, storyboards, USP, reach, frequency and single-minded proposition,” AdAge is kinda the Forbes for advertising junkies. It’s like Men’s Health except some straight people read it.

shaycarl
shaycarl t-shirt

The actual article is titled “Meet YouTube’s Most In-Demand Brand Stars,” and it’s a nice representation of the booming webstar, perhaps the central point of “Beyond Viral,” an amazing new book by Wiley & Sons coming out Sept. 21. Despite some conspicuous misses and a few odd inclusions, the article points to some interesting nuggets like MysteryGuitarMan (MGM) preference for a blank creative brief… his videos have never been better, and each one squashes my own confidence more aggressively than the next.

I would have also liked to read a “who’s who” of the companies that link stars with brands (Hitviews, Mekanism, PlaceVine, Howcast, YouTube). That’s something you don’t see covered well, and it’d be fascinating to read about the total market for sponsored videos and the dominant players.

TubeMogul helped compile this list, and you can see the webstar’s vital signs on the TubeMogul marketplace. The stats seem to be out of synch with YouTube’s counter and other sites (TubeMogul has me at 145 million, while YouTube alone counts 161 million…. so my views on Yahoo Video and other sites must be negative 16 million). It could be that once I “private” a video (like those I’ve buried because I no longer like them), I lose Tubemogul credit for them.

Before I could go to bed sulking for being overlooked by AdAge and Tubemogul, I discovered author Irina Slutsky sent me a note about this a week or so. And yeah I missed it. Just like the two e-mail offers to appear on AnnoyingOrange, one of the hottest web series by DaneBoe.

ADHD online-video creator and marketer seeks minimum-wage e-mail account manager from India.

These peeps don’t seem to read my blog, but I consider more than a few of them as friends… Trippy (he’s been in my kids’ bed), Buckley (he spanked me), Penna (wrote the Nalts theme and couldn’t get into bars at early YouTube gathersings), and Shay (he was new, we collabed, then he became twice as big as me overnight… and also got a lot more viewers). Others are more like acquaintances like Justine (who keeps a safe distance, but I made her what she is) and Smosh. Speaking of Smosh, Ian and Anthony get props for the recent Butterfinger Snackers video (“Selling Out”) that spoofed the criticism they’ve taken lately for doing a few too many sponsored videos. Heh. I did a Butterfinger video in 2006, a year before I goofed on this whole sponsored-video space with this video, which mentions Smosh. I’m guessing the Smosh kids never saw this diddy…

It’s me 3 years ago mimicking the emergence YouTube “sell outs” and the personalities who might desperately broker brand/webstar love connections... you know, the entities connecting brands and web stars. Most YouTube webstars know more about engaging an audience than turning a brand strategy into effective and persuasive messaging… so they need help. There are some exception- like Rhett and Link, who could just as well be their own boutique creative agency, as reflected in the quality of their advertainment and the highly unusual ratio of branded to non-sponsored views. I almost like their sponsored videos better than their brand-deficient ones because like a pro athlete they make it look easy.

And, lest I miss mentioning my book (Beyond Viral) in a single post, you’ll find mention of almost all of these cats inside the low-cost pages… including featured sections on Rhett & Link, Charles Trippy, Shay Butler and others.

Hey what ever happened to Buckley? I think he ignored me like Caitlin Hill (thehill88) and iJustine. Maybe Buckley needs an e-mail intern… I wonder if there are any Indians with the name Mason?

How to Memorize Anything Quickly: 10 Memory “Pegs”

Having trouble remembering a list of to-do items or concepts for a presentation? Preparing for a test, and need a fast way to remember a bunch of things? You need mnemonics!

Mnemonic guide to remember ten things easily

In today’s UncleNalts “YouTube Orbit” video (subscribe here, folks, for daily nonsense) I reveal a mnemonic device that will help you remember ten things. Here’s a visual depiction of your “pegs,” or devices on which you’ll hang/store what you want to remember. You’ll need to memorize this list first, but each item rhymes with the number it represents.

The key is to create a vivid, action-oriented, weird image or scene to connect what you’re trying to memorize to these ten images (which you’ll only have to learn once, and keep for life).

Example: So if you’re trying to remember to pick up dry cleaner’s as your fourth image… you need a WILD way to connect dry cleaner’s to item four (door).

Wrong way: Picturing yourself walking into the dry cleaner’s via the door is not going to work. Instead, try something freaky.

Right way: Imagine that you’re picking up your shirts, but the dry cleaner’s is giving you one shirt at a time… requiring you to walk through a series of doors that are vibrating. On each door is one of your shirts hanging on the door knob. You get into a fight with the dry cleaner because you’re frustrated with how cumbersome it is to pick up your shirts. THAT you’ll remember.

Getting Your Video to Top of Google Ranking (fart)

I met recently with Steve Rubel, who Business Week once called “the all-knowing thumper in a forrest of bambinos.” He’s dumped his Micropersuasion, but still posts on SteveRubel.com.

Steve asked me what I knew about video and SEO, and prompted this succinct 101-post on “how to use online-video to crawl your way to the top of Google rankings.” As I’ve reminded you before, YouTube is the second most important search engine, and YouTube videos get a strong advantage on Google. When you search a term, and see a video thumbnail someone’s done their homework.

Mark Robertson is the authoritative voice on video SEO, and his blog (ReelSEO) is a must-read. His post “SEO for Video” is essential reading.

I’m less savvy than Mark or other SEO/SEM experts, but I am a marketer who spends many waking hours trying to get my YouTube videos more views. Here’s ReelSEO’s Jeremy Scott’s piece about my previous “inside” scoops on YouTube and search (and his clever retort of my assertion that online-video will trump social media).

Sure you can buy text ads surrounding these Google searches, but they will burn through a budget fas. Furthermore, searchers usually jump to the “organic” or “natural” results that aren’t in yellow. Google eye-tracking charts have proven that, and undisclosed eye-charts of YouTube show that the primary navigation attracts eyes to that coveted search field. I’m not suggesting “either/or.” You want to appear for key searches anyway you can… even if you’re buying ads on searches that you already organically dominate. I have fought this logic, but the text ads for your brand name usually yield the highest-quality traffic (even if they MIGHT have found you without the ads).

Your thumbnail in the red area is worth more than text ads

Now some fresh tips and secrets for helping your video content rise on Google results, where you are exponentially more likely to be discovered by curious prospects.

1) Put Your Video in Places Easy for Search ‘Spiders” to Find. Your video content is either on YouTube or it’s hiding. Google’s automatic “spiders” dig routinely through your site, but don’t make them work too hard. If you have videos streaming on Quicktime on your website, then don’t expect them to get discovered easily (especially if they’re buried deep). Start posting on YouTube, then use TubeMogul to go more broadly (a free tool that distributes videos to dozens of existing online-video accounts, as long as you have accounts on them). I have asked TubeMogul’s CEO (Brett Wilson) to allow video publishers to vary keyword tags by site; currently you tag your video the same for all sites, which doesn’t allow you to experiment and hedge bets. That will increase odds of “Mother Google” blessing you with first-page result for niche terms. Again, if your video is on your brand site it might as well be in a file cabinet.
2) Oddly, Metadata Still Works. Metadata includes the title, description and keywords that search engines can use to find your content. Be selective, and go for targeted terms. Don’t try “digital camera,” but something more narrow like “how to buy cheap video cameras.” Then be consistent with your title, first words of your description, and the keywords. This can be challenging, because viewers like short irresistible titles… but spiders will index based on common search terms or phrases.
3) Engagement Matters. A well-viewed, top rated, commented, favorited video is going to work MUCH better than one you post solo. That’s why the YouTube stars (already popular amateurs or pros) have an edge on the rest. Their active fan following moves them to top of most-viewed videos, and makes them easy for a new audience to discover them. This is one of the reasons I urge marketers to tap into the credible platform of a weblebrity instead of posting their own videos. If I upload a video on my “Nalts” channel, it’s going to do better on SEO than the same exact video posted to a new account or your account. Many people attempt to replicate this by asking friends and family to “5 star, favorite, and comment.” But a few dozen people aren’t as powerful as the thousands of active fans that rate their favorite creators 5 stars even before watching the full video.

4) YouTube is Getting Smarter about weeding out videos boasting provocative thumbnails (the images that represent the video on YouTube or Google search results). So in time, pictures of neon graphics (a hot trend) and boobies (a timeless certainty) will not outrank relevancy. Ultimately I expect YouTube to rank videos based, in part, on “attention scores.” As a YouTube Partner I know which of my videos have high “attention scores,” which is a relative score based on videos that are of similar duration. I can’t tell precisely how many people stopped watching at a specific moment (or the average view duration) but I can see where most people dropped, and I try to manage that by “teasing” video that comes later. If a video for a particular term has a high “attention score,” then Google/YouTube can correctly assume it was relevant to the searcher. So I’d expect that to be as vital as transcribed text, and Google/YouTube already has the ability to connect these (and may well be using them).

5) While Waiting for Transcription. Don’t hold your breath for Google to transcribe videos, which will be the Holy Grail. Rubel observed that “Google Voice” is teaching Google to recognize various dialects, and that will come in handy when it’s time to transcribe and index video speech for word searches. In the meantime, you want your videos to be valuable/relevant and short (30-90 seconds), then compel action (like a visit to a website) with a meaningful promise. Remember it’s much easier to get a YouTube viewer to a channel page than to abandon YouTube. We’re still seeing click-thru rates (from YouTube to brand sites) in the low single digits. Some YouTube creators (like “CharlesTrippy” and “Shaycarl“) post daily videos as long as 10-12 minutes, which automatically propel them to the most popular page. This may give them an advantage, and I recently speculated that long videos may, counter intuitively, be a view driver. I’m now thinking that the frequency keeps them “top of mind” and forges a bond with their viewers, which is the real driver. Still, their fans will watch more of those videos than typical videos of that duration… and that certainly should help. While we wait for transcribed search, consider captioning your content (it’s time consuming but free on various sites) or adding a full or partial text transcript to your description.

5) The basics of SEO apply when it comes to keywords. Spell hot ones wrong on purpose, focus on less competitive terms/phrases, and use desired ones first. Before Google stopped using metatags to rank, it always put exponential emphasis on the first word than the fifth. So consider carefully the first words you’ll use in sequence, and don’t try to fight for highly competitive terms. I used to automatically use “Nalts” as a keyword, but now I place that at the end of my list. Sometimes I’ll use a partial phrase like “how, to, become, popular, on, youtube,” and name the video similarly. Then my description will begin with “How to become popular on YouTube…”

6) I haven’t seen evidence that YouTube videos embedded on other sites have an advantage. Logically, an embedded video means bloggers and other websites find the content valuable… and YouTube videos used to show publicly (under video you’ll see “statistics and data” the sites that drove traffic to a video, but have inexplicably eliminated that somewhat recently). It was probably being abused by spammers. Google tends to focus on relevancy rather than monetization, but it’s hard to ignore a motivator YouTube has: the site can monetize videos on its own site easier than on other sites. So it’s in Google’s financial interest to reward video content that draws traffic to YouTube rather than embedded videos on sites that use its bandwidth without creating a premium for advertisers. We know that if hundreds of websites link to President George Bush using a hyperlink called “stupid,” then he’ll rise on search results for the word stupid. So perhaps my top ranking for the keyword “fart” was helped by any sites that linked to me with the tag, “fart video.”

But there’s a true relevancy factor at play. If you’re inclined to search “fart,” I’m guessing a video of a kid with a fart machine is one of the things you may be hoping to find. Or maybe you were seeking a nice medical definition or the origin of the word (Wikipedia, which now has trumped me, indicates “immediate roots are in the Middle English words ferten,feortan or farten; which is akin to the Old High German word ferzan. Cognates are found in old Norse, Slavic and also Greek and Sanskrit.”

7) Timing. Michael Buckley’s “What The Buck” show and Sxephil’s vlogs benefit greatly from their regular content about topics being searched. Their recent videos are often between 500K to a million, and they have some videos that are cash cows for certain subjects (garnering regular views that are in the multi-millions). As I write, they’re no doubt making a video about the Golden Globes, knowing that on Tuesday people will return to work, and be grazing for recaps. This timely content also serves as “link bait” to popular social-media sites that are looking for current videos about hot content. Topicality is important, and the best personal example I can provide is my 2009 Superbowl “best commercials”  video. It maintains a poor attention score (lots of early drops relative to most of my videos), but I launched it before last year’s Superbowl game… fetching it 3-4 million views in the days after last February’s game… and it’s up to 7 million now. The GoDaddy boob thumbnail doesn’t hurt either, but that’s not helping the attention score. If you want boobies, you’re turned off to see a dad and his kid talking about the best ads. If I did a daily vlog about the hot terms I found on Yahoo Buzz, I’m quite certain I could dramatically expand my daily views from 150K-200K to 500K. But alas I have neither the time nor interest. I’m guessing Buckley and Phil scour many sites to find out what content people are searching each day.

8) Untapped Secret: SEM on YouTube. I almost hate to give this away. But if you have an Adsense/Adwords account and you’re a YouTube partner, you can advertise your video based on keyword terms. This drives search-driven ads that display your video to a targeted audience, and is not expensive for most terms (a cost-per-click bid of a few pennies sometimes works). Even better, you’re then able to put your own simple “InVideo” ad over the video with a clickable hyperlink. See the example on my “Hair Transplant Fun,” which is more likely to drive viewers to my blog than a hyperlink in the description. And remember: get that hyperlink early in the description so it appears to viewers in a truncated description.

Now a few things that don’t work, or at least will die soon enough.

  • I’m finding lots of spam automatic blogs that are now embedding my videos and descriptions hoping to trick Google into indexing it. This annoying technique is also fooling Radian6 and other social-media monitoring tools, which report this old content as new. Last week I tried a “Nalts” search on Radian6 and was frustrated to see old video descriptions appearing as recent buzz about me. Maddening.
  • I’m also constantly finding my name packed with other YouTube usernames in videos by people who naively hope that works. Puh-leeze. Did that ever work? It’s a good technique if you’re mentioning a particular YouTuber, because we do tend to “ego surf” for content that tags our name. But as soon as I see 12 other names aside mine, I know it’s trolling.
  • Fake thumbnails might artificially drive views, but the video will be penalized when the attention scores show Google the video duped its users.

YouTube Partner Income Sporadic

While we’re precluded from revealing specifics about YouTube revenue, it’s now becoming more common for YouTube “partners” to know what others are making. While the CPM (cost per thousand views) once seemed to have settled, the creator income fluctuates wildly. As noted in this chart, the month of May took a nose dive for me– June was up slightly. July’s amount (due in days) will tell give us a sense of trends, and whether we’ll return to the peak of the first quarter when InVideo ads were flowing like wine at a wedding.

What’s interesting is that views/subscribers don’t appear to correlate with income very well. See TubeMogul stats (chart 2) for monthly views, but recognize that YouTube’s Partner revenue (paid via AdSense) lags by a month. Any statisticians in the houuuse?

It would appear to me that there are two variables a creator can’t control, and significantly alter  YouTube Partner earnings:

  1. Inventory. If YouTube isn’t selling InVideo ads (ads that surface on bottom of video after 20 seconds) in my videos, there will be almost no income. The income from text ads and banners is paltry even in volume. If that yellow line is in the video player I’m a happy camper. Otherwise I fear retiring a corporate mule. I am aware that this isn’t healthy, thank you. Keep in mind that my revenue is not necessarily suggestive of YouTube revenue or inventory — it could simply be that my specific videos weren’t targeted by advertisers in a certain period. I do see a day where the creator can help sell his/her own advertising revenue, but that’s a logistical challenge.
  2. Location of view. YouTube currently doesn’t flight InVideo ads except for videos viewed on YouTube.com. That means a sweet lil’ old blogger embedding my video and getting me hundreds and thousands of views is of no consequence yet to her or me. Yet. Yet!

A few lessons for those hoping to make a living via online video:

  1. Be realistic. It takes a long while for views to translate to income. Think of it as a bonus not salary.
  2. Don’t count on it as a primary income unless you’re one of the top most-viewed creators and your audience is attractive to advertisers. In that regard, it feels more like TV/movies. Hopefully the predictions of radical increase in online-video advertising will equalize this effect… making it more democratic.
  3. If you expect to live on YouTube, become a hot rock star or lower your cost of living.
  4. Expect fluctuation. While in theory you control your views, thse too are dependent on a variety of factors. And unless you start selling for YouTube, the total advertising revenue and inventory is out of your control. People kinda have to be travelling on Maine highways for your Maine hotels to have high occupancy. You can make sure your hotel is more attractive than the very busy Motel 6 across the street.
  5. Find other ways to earn money via online video. Don’t bother selling crap to people (to date, the Nalts DVDs and merchandise has accumulated less than my worse month on YouTube). Rather find ways to appropriately sponsor brands or companies, and pursue those deals on your own. Until I start popping up in keynotes at Advertising conferences, it’s going to be a while before advertisers come hunting for you.

But I’m working on waking the sleeping giants.