Google Changed The Game For YouTube Monetization Today

In my view, Google just changed the game today regarding monetization of its massively used (but so far barely profitable) YouTube video sharing service. Get the details on what it will look like in this CNET article about it here.

In a word, Google is starting a new "sponsored videos" feature on YouTube that will follow their well proven keyword/Pay-per-click (PPC) model, only now with videos instead of the familiar (and mostly ignored) Adsense text ads. This should be a great opportunity for those internet marketers already further along with their video efforts.

It should be pretty cheap to bid on the YouTube keywords at first, due to limited competition on them (the barrier to reasonably well-produced, well-converting video is still high, a lot higher at least than for text/image websites), and the click-through rates should be high because the videos blend right in as just more video content.

Note that the appearance of the still screen shot shown for the video before play will be crucial to attracting extra attention (like a well-done display ad). But in principle, nothing about this form of "ad" will make it so that YouTube viewers will mentally block them out – which usually happens even unconsciously after a short while, because the "ads" are, well, videos, the same thing that the user was looking for in the first place.

But if done right, it can be the equivalent of an advertorial, a marketers dream…

An important caveat applies here: You want to be sure to get the context right, i.e. deliver a video that will be perceived as relevant, or even value-added to the user’s keyword search. Else you will garner exponentially negative brand equity, as users will feel betrayed.

Again, I’d say Google just changed the game today as far as their ability to monetize YouTube is concerned (which was pretty poor so far), but it also should be a great avenue for internet marketers: Instead of wasting time trying to manipulate the YouTube view rankings, or having to "viralize" the videos some other way with a high failure rate (although if you can have that built in, the effect after the initial sponsored promo phase could be multiplied!), you just buy the "in".

Of course, you’ll still have to know what you are doing in terms of direct response marketing to get prospects to convert from the video, and make the numbers work reliably for you.

Microhoo “Post-Mortem Post” – Part 3: Delusions of Scale

The ups and downs of the Micro-hoo saga continue unabated, with renewed Carl Icahn intrigue being the flavor of the week. The noose that irate shareholders have been verbally tying around Jerry Yang’s neck seems to be getting tighter all the time.

But this time even usually stalwart Micro-hoo cheerleader Michael Arrington of TechCrunch is saying that Microsoft may be going too far in its Machiavellian machinations to want to feast on Yahoo’s carcass.

Meanwhile David Kirkpatrick, senior editor of Fortune Magazine, argues that Microsoft will inevitably buy Yahoo, making the case that it has gotten personal for Redmond ever since Google wrested the crown of perceived "greatest and most powerful tech company" away from them.

But in arguing that Microsoft desperately needs Yahoo’s scale, Kirkpatrick falls into the same "scale will solve things" thought trap that is deluding Microsoft, and plenty of commentators throughout the blogosphere in both posts and comments as well.

Currently Google’s monetization advantage vs. Yahoo (confirmed, and likely similar vs. MSN/Live Search), that comes from their focused execution is somewhere around 50-100%. And it has NOTHING to do with "scale".

It has everything to do with the advertisers being able to afford higher average bids due to higher average conversions. Period.

Conversion is the only thing that ultimately matters to an advertiser. Scale is a straw-man. If YHOO or MSFT had equal or better conversion numbers for the same keywords, then advertisers would jump on that. The individual advertiser could care less about the total query share numbers, or total number of clicks, they only care about their ads converting when they are being shown and clicked on.

If you mail a direct response ad, do you care what total percentage of the region or nation that mailing list reaches? No way. You care about the conversion numbers, because if an ad doesn’t convert you can’t long afford to mail/run it. In search ads, if you fail to convert the clicks you get, as a small business you can be bankrupt before you know it. It’s that simple.

The total volume of searches or even clicks for a keyword on Google, Yahoo, or MSN/Live has little or nothing to do with it. It’s simply that at lower conversion rates on Yahoo or MSN/Live, advertisers have a harder time making the economics work for them.

Steve Ballmer should change his tune at the next Microsoft company meeting:

Conversion, conversion, conversion…

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