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One-Off Viral Videos Now Can Make Money on YouTube

Posted by: Rob Hof on August 25, 2009

Ever since Google’s YouTube video sharing unit started trying to make some serious money in late 2007, it has mainly tried to place ads on videos produced by people who regularly create popular videos. (It doesn’t place ads on videos unless their creators specifically allow it.) Now that two-year-old YouTube Partner Program is being expanded to individual videos that suddenly become very popular—that go viral, as they say—whether it’s the African safari animal faceoff in “Battle at Kruger” (with 45 million views to date) or cutesy videos like “Otters holding hands.”

The move will open up YouTube monetization to tens of thousands of potential partners, up from thousands today, according to Tom Pickett, YouTube’s director of online sales and operations. It’s one more way Google hopes to make some money off its $1.6 billion purchase of YouTube, which hasn’t produced significant revenue as quickly as Google and its investors have hoped. “This really opens up the door for more people to participate in the program,” Pickett said today in a conference call with reporters.

Whether it pulls in the advertising will be another story. The ads will have to match the content pretty well, or they won’t be effective. Both publishers and advertisers have often complained that contextual ads on AdSense sites don’t always, well, fit the context. Two ads I just saw on Battle at Kruger were for a video game and a computer projector. UPDATE: I now see an African photo safari ad overlaid on the video itself, which I missed before. So I have to give YouTube props on that one. The display ad on the right is still the video game. But Google tells me not all the ads are contextual; some are demographically targeted.

Pickett didn’t provide many specifics, such as how much revenue such videos might bring in. Some details from a post on the official Google blog:

In the future, everyone will monetize their 15 minutes

We first launched the YouTube Partnership Program (YPP) to help some of our more popular users make money from their videos on YouTube. While we've focused on accepting prolific users who regularly produce videos that reach a wide audience — like Fred and ValsArtDiary — we've occasionally extended the program to include some of the site's more unforgettable videos, such as the Battle of Kruger, David after dentist and Otters holding hands. These individual video partnerships recognize the role popular "one-off" videos play on YouTube, and have helped many people earn thousands of dollars a month as their videos went viral and endured over time.

We decided it was time to spread the wealth. Today we're excited to announce that we're extending the YouTube Partnership Program to include individual popular videos on our site. Now, when you upload a video to YouTube that accumulates lots of views, we may invite you to monetize that video and start earning revenue from it. To determine whether a particular video is eligible for monetization, we look at factors like the number of views, the video's virality and compliance with the YouTube 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:
Once you've chosen to enable revenue sharing, YouTube will sell advertising against your video and pay you a revenue share into your Google AdSense account each month. (If you don't have an AdSense account, you'll have the opportunity to create one.) Individual video partnerships will not be eligible for many of the benefits of user partnerships, like enhanced channel features or the ability to monetize other videos in your account, so we encourage you to apply to be a member of the YPP. We'll consider your individual video partnerships when reviewing your YPP application. For now individual video partnerships are available only in the United States, but we hope to roll these out internationally soon.

It's taken us some time to build out the YouTube Partnership Program, our content management tools and other infrastructure to handle expanding the YPP to so many individual users and videos. Now that we're ready to share these opportunities with a wider audience, we're excited to see how individual video partnerships will help even more people make money from their success on YouTube.

Posted by Shenaz Zack, Product Manager

Reader Comments


August 25, 2009 5:05 PM

I love marianvalkyrien's videos.lots of great up close nature ones,plus the girl dogs gone wild ones--you gotta see them to believe them.great mural and graffitti ones,and koi too.


September 20, 2009 7:34 PM

I am a youtube partner but don't make much money from the program.

You can see my videos at


September 25, 2009 2:01 PM

I've got a few neat, short videos linked up to the adsense program, and think it's a great way for independent producers to have control over their work (and earn revenue). The Panama Canal video I made is a great example of a video that makes the most of this program.

I love the program!

You can see my videos at:

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