YouTube hopes to sell more video makers on the virtues of ads as site strives to make money

By Michael Liedtke, AP
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

YouTube’s new sales pitch: join our ad program

SAN FRANCISCO — YouTube hopes to convert more amateur videographers into capitalists as it strives to show more advertising on its Web site and reverse years of uninterrupted losses.

The Internet’s top video channel will try to widen participation in a 20-month-old advertising program by actively recruiting the makers of widely watched clips.

The more aggressive approach announced Tuesday is a switch from YouTube’s previous practice of waiting for video makers to apply to the ad program.

The strategy hasn’t been profitable for YouTube so far — something that the site’s owner, Internet search leader Google Inc., wants to change.

After buying YouTube for $1.76 billion in late 2006, Mountain View-based Google initially focused on luring more people to the video site.

As the recession squeezed Google, the emphasis this year shifted to making money, prompting YouTube to explore new ways to show ads alongside more of the millions of clips clicked on its site each day.

YouTube won’t allow advertising without the consent of a video maker, largely to avoid legal fights over who has the right to profit from the work.

That policy means YouTube needs to persuade more video makers to allow ads. Toward that end, YouTube will try to quickly identify videos with a big following and then contact the owners of the clips about advertising opportunities.

YouTube expects the solicitations to boost the number of advertising partners from the thousands to the tens of thousands, said Tom Pickett, the video site’s director of online sales and operations.

It probably won’t require much arm twisting, given that the video owners get most of the revenue from the ads accompanying their clips. Google won’t specify how much it pays each of its ad partners, though it typically ranges anywhere from 70 percent to 90 percent of the revenue.

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