I interviewed video marketing author and SEO expert Greg Jarboe about YouTube’s recent move to increase upload times for all non-partner videos to 15 minutes. Greg and I discuss what YouTube’s reasons were for the increase, who may already be profiting from the increase, and how YouTube has blurred the line between “amateur” and “professional” videos through improved monetization opportunities for everyone.

Greg blogged yesterday on SearchEngineWatch.com about who’s already monetizing their 15 minutes of fame on YouTube. Additionally, I interviewed Shelly Palmer on the subject yesterday.  I highly recommend you read those pieces along with our interview, featured below.

YouTube 15 minutes – PR Stunt Or Real Benefit?

Grant: What do you believe was the main reason for YouTube’s time increase? Can it be interpreted as something more than just for it’s own PR?

Greg: Yes, I think it is. If YouTube wanted to just have this be a PR stunt, they already do those every month (laughs). I think what has mystified people is, who needed more time?

Grant: I think what mystifies me is, did YouTube think what we most needed was to watch crappy videos that are now 50% longer? ;)

The YouTube Duration Limits – History And Purpose

Greg: The 10 minute limit was put in place back in May 2006, added shortly after the television network NBC had complained that many clips of their own tv shows had been uploaded to YouTube. YouTube took those down; and shortly thereafter, they instituted the 10-minute limit, as a way of discouraging people from taping episodes off the TV and slapping them up on YouTube. At the time, it was a blunt instrument (with much more limited technology than what they have today) but it was an attempt to protect copyright owners from getting just ripped off wholesale.

Big Changes For YouTube In 2010

Greg: Flash forward to this year, 2010. A number of things have changed. One of them is that they now have thousands of content owners as part of their Content ID program. One dramatic change is that there are many more people who are figuring out ways to either protect their copyright, or monetize it. The second dramatic change is the outcome of the VIACOM lawsuit (in which the judge ruled in YouTube’s favor).

Why 15 Minutes?

Grant: Reading the comments on the YouTube blog, there are some people who argued for more time than just an extra 5 minutes. They tend to think in terms of television episode length. Like, why not a half hour? (Which answer isn’t immediately obvious to people not in the tv industry.)

Greg: YouTube didn’t make it a half hour, because then they would basically be enabling people to go back to taking a half-hour sitcom, copying it and slapping it up on YouTube.

What’s Been Submitted So Far?

Grant: Greg, you did some research on who is now uploading videos with the extended time, including those who weren’t official YouTube partners and didn’t have the opportunity before. You organized the submissions into two general groups of intent:

  1. Those who are just looking for quick personal fame (and are mostly forgettable), which seem to make up the majority of the entries. There will always be people in these channels that are just looking for personal fame, to get discovered, who aspire to be the next Justin Beaver. That’s fine, it’s a legitimate aspiration, and YouTube has helped people do that. They had a whole bunch of YouTubers on America’s Got Talent. People are still trying to get discovered. That’s why they upload their YouTube videos.
  2. And, there are those who are doing something really useful and practical with that extra time, that’s actually monetizeable (either with ad overlays or direct marketing, or how-to’s.)

Some of YouTube's "15 minutes of fame" selections. "Frankly, most of them are forgettable." Says Greg Jarboe.

Blurring The Lines Between “Amateur” & “Professional” Video

Grant: Greg, by actual category of interest, you explained to me that the people who seem to be utilizing the 15-minute time limit very aggressively (but interestingly, didn’t care to tag their videos “YouTube15minutes” for the YouTube contest), are people in the technology and electronics category, the gadgets category, machina and gaming sections. It’s interesting there are people who monetize their videos one way or another to the advantage of the extra time, but didn’t bother to tag it.

Greg: They fall into a few of YouTube categories, but the biggest standout of all of them all is the category called Beauty Tips. If you take the top 5 channels in the Beauty Tips category, they have well over 450 million views. If you want to look like Lady Gaga and how to apply the makeup, that’s big bucks! People who are making money off of this are the channel owners, who basically have become targets for product placement. Cosmetic companies are giving them products to use. I interviewed one cosmetic company who admitted to making millions of dollars in less than a year from cosmetic product sales by, basically, going out to the top 5 Beauty Tips channels and saying, “Hey, can I give you some of my stuff (to feature on your channel?)” Money is being made.

YouTube's Beauty Tips category – popular, monetized video by "professional amateurs"

Greg: So if you go to the Beauty Tips category and look for who’s got a recent video that’s 11-15 minutes long, and what you see are a whole bunch of makeup tips.Turns out, one of the things that we didn’t figure out the day the announcement was made was that sometimes, you do need those extra few minutes.

For an example of what Greg is talking about, check out the #1 Beauty Tips channel personality on YouTube Michelle Phan. a professional makeup artist and spokesperson discovered by the cosmetic company Lancome, because of her videos posted on YouTube showing makeup applications. Michelle has netted over 210 million views to all of her videos on YouTube.

Greg: We once had an old line of demarcation on YouTube where critics were apt to definite was “professional generate content” versus “amateur content.”

Grant: I also know that many of those same critics wrote off YouTube as just a hub for amateurish (i.e, silly) and personal videos, and thus not fit for being considered professional quality

Greg: That old demarcation is no longer quite as clear as it may had been in the old days, because what has happened now on YouTube is, some of the amateurs have gotten very professional.

Grant: And very, very popular.

Greg: So in terms of monetization of videos on Youtube – a regular day-in-day-out, week-in-week-out, month-in-month out basis – categories once thought of only being for personal use have already become very professional. Go back into the Beauty Tips and Gadgets categories and other like categories of videos, and you’ll see those aren’t all amateurs now. In the Beauty Tips category, several of them have their own cosmetic lines in stores. In the Gadgets category, there’s advertising dollars to be had.

Podcast Extras

Listen along to the podcast interview above and you’ll also hear us discuss:

  • (12:30) Copyright protection – what’s YouTube’s role, and what can they do better?
  • (20:00) The upcoming Search Engine Strategies conference in San Francisco, and the new “Video Lab” two-day workshop co-hosted by Greg Jarboe

About Greg Jarboe

Greg Jarboe is the author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, and the president and co-founder of SEO-PR. Greg is also a correspondent for Search Engine Watch and a frequent speaker at the Search Engine Strategies conferences including several sessions on online video at SES San Francisco August 17th-19th, 2010. He is also one of the 25 successful online marketing gurus profiled in Michael Miller’s Online Marketing Heroes: Interviews with 25 Successful Online Marketing Gurus. The audience of the International Search Summit voted him as its very first “Medallion Speaker Award.”

Special thanks to Creative Core Productions for their sound editing of this podcast