Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

YouTube Brings More Ads to Your Phone, Next to Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga

YouTube on your phone is popular, but until now it hasn’t made Google much money. The search giant has only been able to slap ads on the homepage of its mobile version, and on search results.

That’s changing starting today, as the company begins to stick “pre-roll” ads in front of several thousand of its clips, including a new set of music videos that hasn’t been available for YouTube mobile until now.

YouTube will start running videos from Vevo, the “Hulu for Music” joint venture that it works with. And it will run ads with those clips, as well as a few thousand other clips, primarily from its network of semi-pro “partners.”

The caveats: The music clips will run only on Google’s Android handsets, and not on Apple’s iPhone or any other competitors’ phones. And the clips will be limited to whatever Vevo has available in its catalog. Which means, most notably, that Google won’t be able to show clips from Warner Music Group, since the company still hasn’t come to terms with Vevo.

That doesn’t mean iPhone users have to go without music videos, of course: There’s a Vevo iPhone app, if you’re so inclined, and there’s plenty of other ways to get music videos on your phone if you want or need to. It’s just that Google won’t make any money when you watch them.

The big picture is that YouTube says it is now generating 200 million video views a day from mobile devices (that number includes both phones and tablets like the iPad), up 3x from last year. And now it wants start turning those views into dollars, or at least pennies.

Worth noting that while YouTube has been most aggressive about putting “overlay” ads on the clips it runs on the Web, it’s not doing so here.

That makes sense, because the format would be particularly annoying on a small screen, where the real estate it eats up would be even more noticeable. And because the point of overlay ads is to get a user to click on them, which opens up a new site. That works fine on the Web, but, again, it seems like a very tough sell on a handset.


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