Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

YouTube’s Most Popular Clips: Still Mostly Ad-Free

Kara Swisher isn’t the only blogger who likes charts*: I love ’em, too! Especially when I can tie them to a news story–in this case, Google’s boasting that big profits are just around the corner at YouTube, once considered to be a bottomless money pit.

This chart, from video-tracking service TubeMogul, doesn’t prove or disprove YouTube’s claim. But it does give you a good sense of where the “short tail” of YouTube’s videos–its most popular stuff–comes from.


To tease it out further, I asked the TubeMogul folks what percent of YouTube’s top videos actually had ads, of any sort, on them. The answer: All of the YouTube “partner/professional” clips–which makes sense. And then another 1.79 percent of the user-generated videos. In other words, 63.28 percent of YouTube’s top videos are entirely ad-free.

Better than the old days, when the site had no ads at all. But it might explain why even though Google (GOOG) is optimistic about YouTube’s chances, the search engine has “yet to realize significant revenue benefits,” as the company pointed out in its most recent quarterly filing.

Here’s a video from YouTube’s most popular offerings that remains unmonetized. Though it seems it would be no problem to get an insurance company to sign on for this one.

*Always good when you get to praise the boss’s idea in public. Even better when you mean it, as in this case.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work