Like many others in the blogosphere — including Ashkan Karbasfrooshan at HipMojo, Allan Stern at CenterNetworks, Fred Wilson over at A VC, and my pal Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 — I’m intrigued by Chad Hurley’s comments to the crowd of tall foreheads at Davos that YouTube plans to start paying users. The only questions that remain, of course, are a) pay whom? and b) How?
According to the Beeb, billionaire surfer dude Hurley said that YouTube is planning pre-roll ads, possibly as short as three seconds — something iFilm and some other sites do, and a solution I don’t think is that bad, despite all the moaning and hyperventilating from some quarters about how this would ruin the YouTube “experience,” etc., etc. Will the site offer AdSense and other monetization tools as well, or tiers of service of some kind?
Scott seems to think that it’s hypocritical of YouTube to build a gigantic enterprise based on other peoples’ content, then make a boatload of money by selling it to Google, and then start doling out nickels and dimes to those who actually own the content. To which I would respond: So what?
The people who had that content weren’t maximizing the use of it on the Interweb, so YouTube saw a market need and filled it — and thereby created value that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. Good for them. Now they can help those content owners monetize their content more easily. Everybody wins.
And I would have a tendency to agree with Chad when he says in the video clip that YouTube decided it was better to hold off paying people until the community had developed first. Introducing commerce too early would likely have given YouTube a much different feeling, and likely would have stunted the growth of the site as the go-to spot for uploading and sharing video. But ultimately, it had to happen. It will be interesting to see how YouTube does it.