For the digital generation, having a video take off on the popular sharing site YouTube is kind of the ultimate achievement of cool—and while some folks have been able to parlay YouTube popularity into some real-world cash, YouTube itself (which, remember, has yet to earn any money!) has been chintsy with the cash, engaging in ad revenue sharing agreements only with major studios and content providers.
Now, YouTube is looking to change that, announcing that it is expanding its YouTube Partner Program so folks who upload the site’s most popular videos—even if those are of inane things like a dog chasing its tail or a squirrel snuffling a video camera—can get a share of ad revenue generated from the video. Not all user-submitted videos will be eligible for the program, though: YouTube says it will look at a number of factors—including total views, how much the video gets shared, and whether the video (ahem) violates any Terms of Service. “If your video is eligible for monetization, you will receive an email and see an ‘Enable Revenue Sharing’ message next to your video on the watch page, as well as in other places in your account,” the company wrote in its blog.
Google isn’t actually going to cut checks for YouTube views directly; instead, a share of revenue from advertising placed with your video will go into a user’s Google AdSense account. Individuals looking to monetize their videos won’t be able to tap into features YouTube offers in full-fledged “user partnerships” in the YouTube Partnership Program, including enhanced channels, or the ability to choose to monetize other videos—individuals’ videos will be eligible for ad revenue solely at YouTube’s discretion.
Industry watchers believe YouTube’s decision to vet video’s eligibility for participation in revenue sharing has to do with giving advertisers control over where their images and brands appear: some advertisers may not want their products or brands appearing next to videos that it believes some of its customers might find distasteful or inappropriate. On the other hand, some advertisers might jump at the chance to advertise next to popular amateur videos—even if they might be a little tasteless.