YouTube 15 Minutes = Fame, Passion, Selectivity, Performance and Profitability?

YouTube 15 Minutes = Fame, Passion, Selectivity, Performance and Profitability?

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I interviewed digital media and television guru, Shelly Palmer, about YouTube’s recent move to expand their upload limit to 15 minutes for non-partner users (from the previous 10-minute time limit). Shelly and I discuss what effect this may have on the quality of videos posted on YouTube, YouTube’s 15 minutes of fame contest, and how YouTube has helped to create “a world now where people are trying to be famous full-time.

Since our podcast runs at just over a half hour, I’ve marked some segments for you to skip to.

  • Grant and Mark’s birthday intro (0:00)
  • Shelly Palmer Interview (6:47)
    • Quality of Videos submitted (8:00)
    • Why not longer than 15 minutes? (8:55)
    • Will this help YouTube turn a profit? (12:40)
    • YouTube and Copyright Law (16:53)
    • On YouTube’s 15 minutes of fame contest, and what it means to be famous today (18:37)
  • Grant and Mark’s closing (24:10)

    I wanted to interview Shelly not just because of his very impressive digital media background, but also because of his very impressive television background. Shelly Palmer is the host “MediaBytes,” a daily news show that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment, which you can watch daily on his site at  He’s also the host of a weekly half-hour New York. television show, “Digital Life with Shelly Palmer,” which is about living and working in a digital world.

    Note: This recorded interview was conducted on Monday, August 9th, before YouTube posted their winning entries.

    Here are some choice excerpts from our recorded interview.

    On the Time Increase – Benefits For Users…

    “I do think its what users want most. I think that everybody I know likes to shoot something of length. 10 minutes was right on the cusp of being just too short… I think it makes sense having it at 15 minutes, and I think everyone is generally happy with that.”

    … and Performance Measurability For YouTube?

    “But is a funny number if you’re going to measure stickiness effectively. I view this change more skeptically, like, what’s not working for them that they feel they need to do this? If they want to see if something sticks, take it out to an hour! I want to see how the sociology of YouTube will change if you take it out to an hour for regular users. A half hour – interesting question, too! But 15 minutes? I don’t know what that means. Is it nice to have? Sure, but people weren’t saying, “Could you give me 15 minutes?” They were saying they wanted longer… It makes great sense to do it from a PR perspective. I’m interested in the stickiness story, but I don’t think you learn it in 15 minutes.”

    On Profitability For YouTube

    “Will more time translate to more advertising dollars? That’s a really hard thing to say… There’s a difference between (the business models of) Google and YouTube. Google packages intention – that’s their currency. (Google) translates intention into wealth. When you go to Google, you intend to be taken somewhere else… Google’s goal is to get you off there as quickly as possible. For YouTube, it’s just the opposite. YouTube has to translate attention into wealth. They want you to pay attention to YouTube and stay there as long as you possibly can, and do stuff like look at ads and click on them.

    I’m fairly convinced (and people tell me that I’m wrong), that if Google didn’t own YouTube, YouTube couldn’t be in business, because it’s too big to be profitable in a one-to-one relationship. I think that when you open the socket, you have the expense of actually delivering asynchronous video. If they had to buy bandwidth like how you and I buy it, I can’t imagine that they could afford to do what they’re doing. Now, they’re running a serious ad model on their site, and they’re probably making some money – they get a ton of traffic. That traffic is probably worth something. The question will be, does 50% more time (and only some videos will be 15 minutes long, and not everyone will watch that long), on average, translate into something that more people will click on an ad? I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t even think you could calculate the answer to that.”

    YouTube 15Min Of Fame – Passion, Technology, and Selectivity

    “We’re in a world now where people are trying to be famous full-time. Andy Warhol lives on… Is 15 minutes of fame on YouTube really fame? That’s actually the question of the decade, and I would say, absolutely. Fame is an interesting and fleeting thing. Who are you famous to, and what does it mean to be famous? It’s a fascinating question.. Look at Facebook – everybody has got something like 650 friends. Now, that’s way extended, because it comes in different categories. You’ve got your sports friends, your business friends, social friends, our religious friends, your kids’ friends, parent friends, friends from school, whatever your vocations or extracurricular activities – there are many different groups! Plow them all together, and that gets up into the hundreds (or thousands). But if you’re just famous to your 650 people that are in your overlapping trust circles, you’re plenty famous in your world (and theirs).

    “Beforehand, we needed a third-party endorser, and I had barriers to entry, and barbarians at the gate. There were all kinds of reasons I couldn’t do it unless I was super-pretty, super-talented, etcetera. That’s all over and done! I’ve got the Internet, I got YouTube, I got a smart phone, I got a computer, I got something to say. It’s not that I’m going to be famous for 15 minutes – I can actually be famous to the people that I matter to (and matter to me). I can be the thought leader in the group. Passion can be translated into street creed or respect. That’s a translation engine we haven’t seen before – it’s in the hands of everybody who wants it… and it’s awesome. People are always motivated by their passions. Emotions are so powerful. Technology is empowering a behavioral change that we have not seen in a long time… It’s the speed and the scale that’s impressive… your ideas. We have the tools to do all of that better than ever… We can reach deeper, faster, and further.

    Special thanks to Creative Core Media for their sound editing of this podcast show.


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