YouTube may be the home of millions of crappy, user-generated videos that advertisers don’t want to place ads against — but hey, guys, that’s just part of the story.
In a blog post Monday intending to “bust myths” about the video site, YouTube P.R. execs Chris Dale and Aaron Zamost say press coverage tends to “dredge up issues” that “we thought were settled a long time ago.”
First point: it’s not just skateboarding cats. The site is home to content from “thousands” of premium partners, including Sony and Disney, Dale and Zamost say. They also dispute the notion that YouTube’s videos are poor quality, claiming the sites and serves up “tens of millions” of “HD” videos.
The YouTube execs also claim independent estimates about its costs and revenues are off the mark (see YouTube May Lose $470 Million In 2009: Analysts). But the company isn’t providing any real numbers to put such speculation to rest. On Google’s Q2 earnings call July 16, CFO Patrick Pichette would say only that “in the not too long-distant future, we actually see a very profitable and good business for us” from YouTube.
“The truth is that all our infrastructure is built from scratch, which means models that use standard industry pricing are too high when it comes to bandwidth and similar costs,” Dale and Zamost wrote in their post Monday. “We are at a point where growth is definitely good for our bottom line, not bad.”
Which doesn’t tell us much, other than implying YouTube at some point was growing costs faster than it was growing revenue and that this situation is allegedly not the case anymore.
Finally, they assert that advertisers don’t hate YouTube, touting 70 of AdAge’s top 100 marketers as customers, and that estimates that the site is monetizing just 3% to 5% of its content is “old and wrong” — but again, the YouTubers don’t tell us what the real numbers are. (The Wall Street Journalreported in July 2008 that YouTube was able to sell ads against 4% of all its clips.)
Here’s the thing: If YouTube has had it up to here with the perception that it’s mostly about non-monetizable, low-quality UGC content like “cat on a skateboard” — which still makes up the vast portion of the site’s views — it should phase out that portion of its business.
If, on the other hand, YouTube sees the UGC side of the house as essentially a loss-leader, a traffic generator to preserve its spot as the No. 1 video site on the Internet, people will continue to wonder: What, exactly, is YouTube supposed to be?