Ad Age Digital DigitalNext MediaWorks YouTube is still Google’s toughest sell to advertisers, but the video site is doing better by one measure than most people think: YouTube is selling ads against about 9% of its video views in the U.S., up from just 6% a year ago.
YouTube declined to comment on the exact rate at which it is selling ads and keeps the exact percentage a closely held secret. But Shishir Mehrotra, YouTube’s director-product management, told Ad Age that the company is selling ads against “hundreds of millions of views” each month. More important, he said, YouTube is selling ads against more videos than its nearest competitor has total views.
A YouTube spokesman confirmed that the social site is placing ads on more videos than Fox Interactive Media, parent of MySpace and IGN Entertainment. Fox Interactive ranks No. 2 by ComScore’s measure, with 463 million views in February, or about 8.7% of YouTube’s 5.3 billion views in the U.S.
More content agreements
The gain in YouTube’s U.S. business is the result of a number of factors, including more content agreements with partners such as CBS, MGM and, more recently, Disney, expanding YouTube’s partner program to thousands of indie and small producers and successfully guiding YouTube visitors to content it can sell to advertisers.
But Mr. Mehrotra said YouTube doesn’t necessarily need more studio film and TV content to make money. “We’re not saying we don’t want them; we’re very proud of our agreement with Disney. But we aren’t hinging our strategy around it. If it’s great for our users, it happens to be good for monetization as well,” he said.
Mr. Mehrotra said the company gets too much credit for headline-generating content deals and too little for dozens of other innovations such as Content ID, which allows copyright holders to let YouTube to place ads on video once it is uploaded.
Next week YouTube will open text overlays to its over 600 Content ID participants. That means MondoMedia will earn ad revenue from this unauthorised upload of a “Happy Tree Friends” episode, even though a user put it on YouTube without permission.
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