YouTube myth busting

Monday, July 20, 2009 | 8:36 AM

One of our favorite shows at YouTube is MythBusters, the Discovery Channel's popular science program in which hosts Jamie and Adam bravely attempt to debunk urban legends. For those of us who thought you could jump start a car with a defibrillator, we consider this show a public service.

Even though we're not drafting big rigs, or getting shot by 20,000 paintballs, we like to do a little myth busting as well. Too often, stories dredge up issues about YouTube products, metrics, or the state of our business that we thought were settled a long time ago. So while we can't tell you which kind of Mentos are better for blowing up Diet Cokes, we can debunk the top five myths about YouTube we repeatedly see:

Myth 1: YouTube is limited to short-form user-generated content. We have thousands of premium content partners, from Sony to Disney to Universal Music, and fans can find hundreds of full-length feature films and thousands of full-length TV episodes on YouTube. The world premiere of Joy Luck Club director Wayne Wang's film, "The Princess of Nebraska," was viewed 165,000+ times during the first 48 hours -- the equivalent of landing the 15th spot on Hollywood box office charts.

Myth 2: YouTube videos are grainy and of poor quality. It was only eight months ago that we launched HD videos on YouTube, and we already have more HD videos than any other video site. Hundreds of thousands of HD videos are uploaded to the site every month, and tens of millions are viewed every day. Earlier this year, CNET's WebWare called YouTube the best HD video service on the web.

Myth 3: Traffic, growth, and uploads are bad for YouTube's bottom line. There's been a lot of speculation lately about how much it costs to run YouTube. With revenue estimates ranging from $120 million to $500 million, and costs on an equally large spectrum, it seems people can pick any number to fit any theory they have about our business. The truth is that all our infrastructure is built from scratch, which means models that use standard industry pricing are too high
when it comes to bandwidth and similar costs. We are at a point where growth is definitely good for our bottom line, not bad.

Myth 4: Advertisers are afraid of YouTube. Over 70% of Ad Age Top 100 marketers ran campaigns on YouTube in 2008. They're buying our home page, Promoted Videos, overlays, and in-stream ads. Many are organizing contests that encourage the uploading of user videos to their brand channels, or running advertising exclusively on popular user partner content (see Carl's Jr.). Advertisers just want control, so we're continuing to develop tools and targeting products that give advertisers more control over where their ads appear on the site. We'll announce more on that front soon.

Myth 5: YouTube is only monetizing 3-5% of the site. This oft-cited statistic is old and wrong, and continues to raise much speculation. In our view, the percentage is far less important than the total number of monetized views, and we are now helping partners generate revenue from hundreds of millions of video views in the U.S. every week (and billions worldwide), more than any other video site has total views. Monetized views have more than tripled in the past year, as we're adding partner content very quickly and doing a better job of promoting their videos across the site.

These myths are officially busted.






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