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YouTube Marketing - Still Profitable?

Updated on October 28, 2008

Just about anyone with a little free time can use YouTube to generate passive income.

Most people think of YouTube as the world's leading video sharing community. As such, it also offers virtually limitless possibilities for the creative internet marketer.

However, it's not exactly the goldmine that it was just a couple years ago. New restrictions, duplicate content checkers, and tougher view count criteria have created a few additional hurdles that the casual marketer may not have the time or patience to clear.

Let's take, for example, the most viewed video of all time on YouTube. At the time of this writing, the music video for "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne has amassed 106,250,002 views (and counting). As popular as she might be, this phenomenon cannot just be attributed to the size of her fanbase. In fact, a group of her fans decided to band together online some time ago and start an auto-refreshing campaign to catapult her video to the very top. This was easily done by using a Firefox add-on called ReloadEvery.

However, in the interest of improving the quality and user-experience of the site, YouTube has since capped the amount of views that can come from a single IP address. Does this make it impossible to work the system? No, not necessarily. Harder? Most definitely.

Can you still make money with YouTube videos? Absolutely.

Let's look at the pros of marketing your product or services (or affiliate products/services) on YouTube:

  • It's FREE
  • There is a vast GLOBAL audience
  • YouTube videos rank very favorably on search engines (particularly Google)

  • Virtually any video can still potentially become "viral"

In the spirit of thoroughness, let's also take a look at the cons:

  • Massive competition
  • Duplicate content is now filtered out of YouTube search results
  • Embedded Auto-play views are no longer counted
  • DMCA copyright infringement notices and video take-downs are becoming more and more common

From an optimistic marketer's perspective, the pros still outweigh the cons. YouTube may have toughened up their site a little bit (and rightfully so), but there is still plenty of room for promotion and success.

True, the days of scraping videos and reuploading them with your own URL in the description box are gone. You can still try it, but your video will likely be buried by the "show duplicate video" filter (if it isn't removed immediately). However, this is really only a small obstacle. This problem can be circumvented simpy be altering the original video slightly. Yes, this will take some basic knowledge of video editing and a little more time, but it is still very much possible to execute successfully. Try adding a watermark to the video and perhaps shortening it slightly. This extra meassure should help it safely pass the duplicate content check.

Of course, another way to effectively bypass the new YouTube restrictions is to simply produce ORIGINAL, quality videos. Imagine that! By utilizing the video response feature (the one that lets you temporarily place a thumbnail of your video beneath other videos), you can potentially spark a fire with your video that will cause it to explode with views. So, what's the secret to the viral phenomenon?

Viral Video Characteristics

First of all, like it or not, many of the videos that became "viral" became that way thanks to the conscious efforts of groups and individuals that understood how to exploit the weaknesses in YouTube's system to their own advantage. As mentioned earlier, this is much more difficult to do now. The best way to create a truly viral video (that will actually SUSTAIN some of its popularity) is to follow the following guidelines:

  • Make it ORIGINAL
  • Keep it brief (the attention span of the average YouTube user is frighteningly short)
  • Think of what characteristics a video needs to have to provoke you to forward it to your friends. Try to include those characteristics in your video.
  • Mind the THUMBNAIL!

Why the Thumbnail is so Important

People are visual creatures, by nature. When a YouTube user sees a provoking thumbnail, they are obviously more likely to click it. They can't contribute to the explosion of your video if they never see it. A popular way to achieve this "clickability" is by using sexually suggestive or provocative images. Some might consider this cheating, and your video is liable to be flagged as "misleading", but to be still works very, very well.

You only get three still images from your video to select as thumbnails. The frames will be selected from the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 mark of your video. So get out your calculator, find those positions, and make sure it is something visually appealing or interesting.

Stick With It

The #1 reason most YouTube marketers call it quits is because they give up too easily. You have to realize that building a successful monetization plan with YouTube requires a significant amount of time and effort, and in the vast majority of cases, it is not going to happen overnight (although it CAN).

As I mentioned earlier, YouTube videos are given pretty significant ranking power from Google. However, it usually takes a couple weeks for this to really take effect. The most important factors appear to be title and keywords, but the videos view count, rating, and favorites all seem to help a bit. That's why putting a little bit of time and effort into making sure your videos actually provide value is so important. Having 100 quality videos that get constant and steady traffic is far better in the longrun than 100 videos that get a fluke traffic surge in one week because you used a still image of a beautiful woman for your entire video and the the thumbnail just happened to provoke a great deal of curiousity clicks!

Following these basic guidelines and implementing your own creativity will help you succeed in the continually competitive yet ever lucrative community that is YouTube.

Example of Video Responses in Action


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks! This is a very informative article!

    • profile image

      Automated Ebook 

      10 years ago

      Lot of people says YouTube marketing is still profitable, yes. These guidelines will for sure help a newbie to succeed on this. Thanks for sharing.


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