The YouTube Story: You Can Share Your Income

The article was originally published in the YouTube chapter of the CANnual Report 2017

Even though online video had already existed in the dawn of public Internet in the 90’s, the modern history of online video content is perfectly described by the platform of YouTube and its methods. YouTube is the biggest video sharing platform today and the second biggest search engine (after Google), with 1.5 billion logged-in users a month, with more than 400 hours of uploaded video per minute and with more than 60% of the videos being watched via a mobile device.

YouTube is included in the marketing communications strategies of more and more brands and services. There is certainly an increasing number of marketers who want to build an optimal presence to communicate via video content, reach new customers and clients, manage their rights or even to obtain income on the platform. These players investigate the benefits of the platform tenaciously, e.g. how they can equal to the rather new content production and activation challenges in the midst of the newest formats of audiovisual content. Or what tools and techniques they should use to become easier to discover on YouTube and how they can maximize their minutes watched.

In the dawn of YouTube’s 12-year-old history, mostly young video makers uploaded their works on the platform, basically ignoring that they used unlicensed copyrighted content (e.g. films, excerpts of games, TV programs). Google purchased the rising video sharing site at the end of 2006, as they saw its potential to become a platform suitable for marketing communications and ad placement. The bigger actors of the creative industry (film producers, music companies, TV companies and game producers) naturally wanted to protect their intellectual property rights, but expected a share of the ad revenue from Google generated on the platform as an income, which forced Google to make a step.

As a result, the YouTube Partner Program has been elaborated slowly but surely in the last 10 years: it offers content creators, rightsholders and authors the opportunity to earn an income, while Google shares the ad revenues. As a part of the program, the bigger partners gain access to the content management system developed by YouTube (YouTube CMS), including a content identification system (YouTube Content ID). The latter is a tool that enables rightsholders and partners to identify all videos uploaded by another user that use their content (of which they own the rights) partially or entirely by voice and image recognition. In addition, they can also set what should happen to such video content: they can block, monetize or just track the given video or its statistical data.

Why is it important to understand this process as the owner or manager of a brand channel? So that they can keep an eye on licensing music or other third-party content used in their branded videos. Otherwise, rightsholders may even block videos uploaded by a brand. It is a better – even though not a joyful – scenario to only monetize them, because then ads of other brands can appear on our videos, which earns revenue for the rightsholders. Brands do not necessarily mind this, but nobody likes it when a rival product or service advertises itself on their video. So, it is worth taking rights management seriously, especially since the same conditions of use apply to videos containing personal, original content.

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