Read Between The Lines: YouTube Monetizing At Least 12% Of Views

Yesterday, YouTube posted an update to its Biz Blog in which it detailed and attempted to dispel some of the oft-spoken myths about the world’s most popular video portal. The blogosphere’s reception to the post was generally skeptical, with a number of reporters complaining that it was overly vague and lacking any concrete numbers about YouTube’s monetization efforts. But it seems that everyone missed a few nuggets of gold in that post that actually reveal quite a bit about YouTube’s performance. Like the fact that the site is likely monetizing at least 12% of all videos streamed in the United States — a huge jump over the numbers that had previously been reported.

You see, a little math and some reading between the lines reveals that things actually are going quite well for YouTube, even if the site isn’t willing to explicitly say so. Up until now, YouTube’s standard line about its monetized views has been that it was selling ads against “hundreds of millions of views each month”. But the post yesterday had a subtle change: YouTube is now monetizing “hundreds of millions of views each week“. That one change is very significant, and given that the post was written by two members of YouTube’s PR team, you can be quite sure it was deliberately worded.

“Hundreds of millions” can generally be taken as a minimum of 200 million views per week, or 800 million per month. We can further support that stat by turning back to the Biz Blog post, which says that “monetized views have more than tripled in the past year”. Last summer, it was reported that YouTube was monetizing approximately 3-5% of its videos, or around 250 million monetized views out of a total of 5 billion in July 2008. Multiply that 250 million figure by three, and we arrive at at least 750 million monetized views currently.

From there, it’s a simple matter of determining how these monetized views compare to those that aren’t monetized. Last April, AdAge reported that YouTube was placing ads against at least 8.7% of its US video streams after a YouTube spokesman confirmed that the site was monetizing more views than the total number of videos streamed (both monetized and not) by Fox Interactive. Based on that month’s ComScore data, Fox Interactive had 463 million views, while YouTube had a total of 5.3 billion views. By dividing the former by the latter, we arrive at the 8.7% figure AdAge derived.

Using similar calculations to those above, we can see how YouTube’s monetized videos have grown: ComScore’s latest report states that YouTube is now seeing 6.8 billion views overall. If YouTube is monetizing 800 million of those, that would mean that the site is now monetizing 11.8% of its views — a marked increase over the 8.7% statistic from April, and more than double the 3-5% stat that the YouTube ‘mythbusters’ were hoping to dispel. YouTube’s Biz Blog post also offers some explanation as to where the growth is coming from, stating that “as we’re adding partner content very quickly and doing a better job of promoting their videos across the site.”

YouTube declined to comment on this story, but given that the original “hundreds of millions” quote came from the horse’s mouth, we’re confident about these stats. And remember, these numbers are all based on the minimum amount of 200 million views per week — the actual numbers could be significantly higher.