Scott Karp at Editor & Publisher has written a post that follows on something I’ve been discussing with others offline: Google has a vested interested in ensuring there’s “good” (or at least popular) content on the Web.
Google bought YouTube last year and now wants to make a lot of money to pay off the purchase and sustain its business. The problem so far has been figuring out how to make money off other people’s content, whether copyrighted or just weird or bad. Google couldn’t put audience clusters together and advertisers freaked out.
Then in May, Google opened up its YouTube ad revenue stream to select partners — people who put original content on the site and attracted big subscriber numbers and pageviews. Here, finally, were the audience clusters advertisers were looking for.
The content partners, mostly big media organizations like Perez Hilton, CBS and National Geographic, have done well enough that YouTube announced Monday it is opening the ad stream to anyone living in the U.S. and Canada. (International users will get their chance soon, YouTube says.)
You still have to apply to be a partner, of course, but for anyone who’s got a knack for making short films, Web serials, vlogs or product ads, this is a chance to finally make some money.
Karp makes some excellent points about the intelligence of Google’s strategy. It’s sharing a small slice of its ad revenue pie with original content creators — avoiding the copyright infringment trap — while generating tremendous user loyalty and quantifiable audiences — something advertisers like — based on trusted brands and using the company’s core competency: search.
Since most of all content on the Web is found through search, you could say all search engines that depend on ad revenue have a vested interest in good content on the Web. For a news organization, however, the trick is figuring out how to siphon off more of the ad revenue stream.
Many of the larger news organizations and wire services have partner deals with the Big 5 search engines. What would happen if media collectively changed the terms, as Sam Zell suggested during a speech at Stanford Law earlier this year?