Smartphones are pretty convenient little devices. Gone are the days of "C'mon, everyone, gather around the computer and watch this funny video!" Now, all one needs to do is pass a phone around the room and everyone gets a front row seat.
YouTube is undoubtedly the number one place people turn when they are looking for a video to keep them entertained, or teach them something new.
But the iPhone lost the YouTube app last year, forcing users to use Safari to find the videos they wanted, and then suddenly it came back again, and YouTube junkies everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief. YouTube just wanted to revamp the app to improve user experience.
The New YouTube App
Have you checked out the YouTube app lately? According to the numbers, I'm guessing you have! Larry Page gave investors the good news yesterday during their earnings call: 40 percent of people accessing YouTube are doing so via mobile device. Last year, only 25 percent of users were viewing on their mobile devices, and only six percent in 2011.
Note that it says "devices." YouTube didn't say how much of that traffic was exclusively viewing via smartphone. It can be assumed that because smartphones are more apt to fit in one's pocket, more people are accessing the app while they're waiting for the bus, on the train, in a doctor's waiting room, etc. But this doesn't exclude those (like myself) who sit in the living room watching a funny YouTube clip that another Facebook friend has posted. It's happening everywhere: inside and outside of the home.
So, people are shifting to mobile viewing of YouTube's videos. Great! Or is it? What's great for you is not so great for programming partners. Here's how it works: YouTube takes 45 percent of advertising space it sells, while programmers get about $2.50 for each 1,000 views their content gets.
The real problem with the advertising on the mobile platform is that there is only one option: TrueView. When you remember that users can choose to skip ad content on the app, you realize that means less revenue coming in from the ads. Great for users, who love advertisment-free viewing experiences, but not so great for the people posting the videos.
Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Investors believe that YouTube will pull it together so to speak, and figure out a way to please users while at the same time bring money to programmers and video makers. They believe that one day, YouTube channels will be the next cable channel. They may be right, but right now, it isn't working out that way.
In the meantime, many video makers are trying to lure people to their own websites, where they can then get money out of users in the form of subscriptions to their content rather than rely on the little money they are generating from YouTube.
If video makers and programmers can just ride it out, YouTube might be able to pull it together. One thing is clear: regardless of whether or not you have a website featuring your videos, YouTube is where viewers are heading, whether you like their payouts or not.