YouTube Looks to Monetize One-Hit Wonders

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Is there gold to be mined from those user-generated hills yet?

YouTube’s latest idea for making the cash register ring is to give owners of suddenly popular videos — think of that dancing-down-the-aisle wedding number — the chance to sell ads against their clips.

It’s an extension of the existing YouTube revenue-sharing program, but without the benefits of being a full partner. “We decided it was time to spread the wealth,” YouTube product manager Shenaz Zack writes in a blog post titled “In the future, everyone will monetize their 15 minutes.”

Factors that will determine whether a particular video is “eligible for monetization,” according to Zack, include the number of views, how viral it is and compliance with the YouTube terms of service. Once you agree to sell out, Google will attempt to sell the inventory through AdSense and you’ll get a cut.

YouTube has done this in ad-hoc fashion with certain viral hits, like otters holding hands, and the new program is supposed to help automate the process.

I wonder if this dude (Web celeb funtwo) could have made Google a few greenbacks off his screamin’ guitar rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon — 62.3 million views to date! Note that the clip links to a site that sells guitar-training software for $29.95 a pop… while YouTube has served up the video millions of times at no cost (I assume) to the guitar heroes behind it.

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