How did my crappy 108-second 4:3 video earn so much and, more importantly, why did it peak 2-years after it was uploaded?
Below is the earnings graph for my best ever YouTube video. It’s 108 seconds long and shot in 640×480 (4:3) on a cheap bridge camera in one-take. I won’t reveal the actual earnings but I will say that it has generated net eCPM at the mid-higher end of what you would expect since I uploaded it at the beginning of 2010. It took me less than 30 minutes to take, make and upload. It’s a one-off and this level of quality wouldn’t make the grade in 2015 but it’s interesting to look at the timescale and the reasons why it was so popular. The curve has deeper meaning and brings up the question of speculative trading in YouTube videos. Dive deeper into the stats and there’s an even more interesting possibility. Video re-marketing.
None of the other 1000+ videos that I’ve uploaded have ever got near this level of views but some have a similar time-frame and curve. The reason for the 3-4 year curve is that this was one of the first demonstration videos for a new keyword that became a generic term. Gorilla Glass was a product that because a generic term and that’s what this video was about. Spotting, or specualting these new trends could be an interesting way to run a long-term YouTube video channel. It’s a bit like domain-name buying. In this case I was lucky because this video wasn’t planned. (I was actually waiting for food at a tradeshow at the time.) I did plan the title of the video though and that might have helped ‘seed’ this video when the time was right.
The views for this video peaked at the end of 2012, 2 years after the video was uploaded. I’m sure many YouTubers and bloggers can highlight a similar example but the success wasn’t just because of the keyword. It was also because of the way in which the video was presented.
Gorilla Glass Test. Smashing Transparent screen!
The video title was a bit of a teaser and the content, attempting to breaking something, is an evergreen topic on YouTube. It’s a cliffhanger not a promotional video which, by the way, is not a sustainable strategy for a YouTube business unless you’re in PR or marketing. There was an element of amateurism (OK, a lot) in this video which probably also helped to make it feel truly authentic. An authentic cliff-hanger!
Many of my peers, tech bloggers, make product videos and when they upload their video they hope they’ve just secured some earnings via a future hit product but maybe we, as tech bloggers, could help ourselves by looking closer at emerging technologies too. Flexible and transparent screens, solar power, LED (something I was playing with in the 80’s and never thought it would become the main lighting technology 40 years later) selfies (again, I was doing this 10 years ago) MP3, and, and, and. There are lots of examples. Actually quite a lot of media-houses are doing this already (see self-driving cars) but there are still great opportunities out there. Mobilegeeks have had success with some of these topics and this video (a transparent screen from 2010) shows an initial spike followed by two significant waves and a general up-tick in recent months. 2.5 million views is about $5000 at average rates and I think this video is going to earn good money for many years to come with more peaks as transparent screen technology moves to mainstream.
Think about new technologies in other sectors too. I’ve joked with people about going to a flooring exhibition in Germany but the more I think about it the more positive I get. Flooring with integrated lighting or sensors or heating or solar panels for example.
Emerging markets and re-marketing.
One other aspect to this video is clear if you drill down into views from India – a huge market for English-language content. More people in India can read and understand English than in the USA although the USA still has the largest number of English speaking people. Look at the view curve for India for the same video. The first wave of views occurs at about the same time but there’s a second wave 2 years later. Could it be that this huge country is behind the USA curve? Of course it is when it comes to smartphones.
Think about the possibilities here. This huge market is going to be influenced by technologies that you already know about now, in the future. The long tail-off might not trend to zero before it’s gone through emerging-market growth. A video could even be re-marketed through a locally known website, that is correctly targeted in terms of local SEO. Add a new audio channel, subtitles or transcription to the video and it a video could get a second life in emerging countries. For English speakers the Philippines, Indonesia and China are extremely important in this respect.
There’s a potential market for video rights trading here. Video futures. Many videos haven’t reached their peak or have never been re-marketed, but could be. YouTube don’t allow ownership to be transferred and they don’t have a system for re-directing single-video earnings to another channel owner but they’re close. YouTube networks are popular and channels are moved in and out of ‘networks’ regularly. Why not allow single videos to be moved in and out of networks? It already happens with ContentID. The technology is there and YouTube just need to make a trading platform for it. Would you pay $3000 for that Mobilegeeks transparent screen video? That might just be a bargain, especially if you can re-market it with some branding that appears in the future and into emerging markets like India. [Let’s look back at this video in 10 years time and see just how many views it generated. This one is going to 10 million in my opinion.]
It you’re trading domain names now, maybe you’ll be trading YouTube video rights in a few years. I feel certain that Google will find a way to move individual videos between YouTube networks or channels, for a charge. YouTube video trading and re-marketing could be big business in the future.