YouTube: Broadcast Yourself, Get Paid

For the legions of dedicated YouTubers looking to turn a buck off of videotaping their homespun antics, Christmas may be coming a little early.

Google’s popular video-sharing property said today that it’s opening its partner program to the public.

Under the program, YouTube shares a portion the revenue it gains from ad placements inside or alongside popular videos. The site deposits the majority of the proceeds into the partner’s AdSense account.

YouTube’s move builds on a pilot version of program it launched in May, when the site reached out to some of its most popular contributors with an ad-revenue sharing proposition. Through that trial effort, YouTube invited more than 100 contributors to participate.

YouTube’s pilot program attracted some reasonably well-known content creators. Currently, the site’s three most-viewed partners are, in order, celeb blogger Perez Hilton, Universal Music Group and musician/performance artist Terry “Zipster08” Roth.

With the expansion of the program, anyone in the United States or Canada now can apply to join, provided they meet a few requirements. No one under the age of 18 is eligible, and YouTube will only consider applicants whose videos regularly attract thousands of viewers, it said.

Additionally, the content must be original and suited for digital streaming.

Taking a cue from its legal travails with Viacom, YouTube is also looking to forestall any more court battles over alleged DMCA violations.

On its site, YouTube stipulates that it will only allow participation from users who “own the copyrights and distribution rights for all audio and video content.”

YouTube also said it would run uploaded videos through its Video Identification tool to help verify copyright information before posting.

Details of the payout plan were not disclosed, although YouTube said that content creators who produce videos that consistently net more than 1 million views can expect to receive several thousand dollars a month in revenue.

The program is open to both individual content producers and media companies looking to broaden their reach by tapping into the viral Web. Additionally, under the non-exclusivity provision of the program, YouTube’s partners are free to upload and distribute their videos elsewhere.

For marketers, expanding the program to a wider pool of content creators can provide more ad inventory while tapping into the popular user-generated content craze. Ads can be targeted by a number of criteria and the program provides quantifiable viewership numbers.

“Advertisers can choose to target videos by categories (like entertainment, sports, news, music, etc.) that span several different YouTube partners, or they can target specially crafted packages of program participants,” a YouTube spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to “Some YouTube ad units can also target by age, sex, geographic location, time of day, etc.”

To become a partner, applicants must answer a few questions about their videos’ length and content, and supply the URL’s of any non-YouTube sites on which they appear. Would-be participants are also asked to tell why they want to join the partner program.

Though initially only open to U.S. and Canadian creators, YouTube says that it will soon expand the program into other markets.

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