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OnScreen Media Summit: YouTube’s Hoffner Says Monetization is Coming

OnScreen Media Summit: Complete Coverage from Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News

New York -- YouTube director of content partnerships Jordan Hoffner outlined the Google-owned video site’s plans to monetize its content during a keynote at the Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News OnScreen Media Summit Tuesday.

YouTube is taking a number of different approaches to build its revenue stream, hoping to capitalize on its market dominance.

The site has struck a number of deals with professional content providers in the past few months, and Hoffner says the company’s number one priority in 2009 is getting that content in front of viewers. The vast library of user-generated content (UGC) is the key to achieveing this he says, using the example of a video featuring a skateboarding cat.

“The companies say they want to be away from the cat on the skateboard,” Hoffner said, “ but it is your friend, because the cat on the skateboard is what gets you your traffic. The trick is, how do you get the premium content in front of the audiences watching the UGC.”

One of the ways YouTube is trying to achieve that is through VideoID, fingerprinting software that lets participating content owners remove, track or place ads on their content.

“What we have seen is that 90% of content that is claimed is being monetized. There is inventory available and they don’t event have to pay an editor to put it up there,” Hoffner said.

Once viewers find that professional content, YouTube is trying a number of approaches to monetize it. In addition to more standard lower-third ads and ads next to videos, the company is placing a focus on click-to-buy and co-branded entertainment opportunities. 

“We believe this works and can help bolster a media company's income,” he said.

As an example, he says that a three-year-old best-of Monty Python DVD set went from being the 10,000 most purchased item on to number 5 a week after the British comedy troupe started posting clips on YouTube, with a referral to Amazon.

Looking long term, Hoffner said that YouTube can carve a niche appealing to undiscovered audiences as well as try to find older content that otherwise would not be monetized

“If people want to see the last episode of Ugly Betty they know they can go to, but on the other side, we can compete by getting into everyone’s old favorite [TV shows] and feature films,” he said. “Given the audience and how big it is, do we essentially become the museum of broadcasting? Do you start doing deals for libraries?”

With YouTube’s recent deal with CBS, classic episodes of shows such as MacGyver and Star Trek are already available on the site, and Hoffner says more content deals are coming.

Still, the biggest hurdle to monetizing its increasingly large professional content library is making sure that people know how and where to find it, and that YouTube is a place to go for it.

'YouTube is a great place for premium content,’ was the “bold idea” Hoffner presented during his keynote. “But we need to do a better job of creating areas where the user can go and know what they are going to get.”