Advertisers embracing unauthorized YouTube content

An unauthorized copy of a recent "Korea's Got Talent" video attracted more than 125 million viewers.
An unauthorized copy of a recent "Korea's Got Talent" video attracted more than 125 million viewers.

After years of fighting unauthorized videos on YouTube, many major brands today are welcoming user-generated clips -- and profiting from YouTube's Content ID program

Major brands have learned that they can’t beat the marketing wizards at YouTube, and they are perfectly happy joining them. The video-sharing monolith just hit $1 billion in payments to companies that take part in Content ID, its program to sell advertising on user-generated clips, according to the Financial Times 

After years of fighting against unauthorized content, including a lawsuit by Viacom, many large brands have figured out that user-generated clips featuring copyrighted content are a great way to reach large audiences. This has provided a new way for advertisers to get their messages to the public. 

Currently, more than 5,000 companies take part in Content ID, including all the major U.S. television and film studios. Whereas television and film studios in the past were aggressive about removing copyrighted content, the successful monetization of that content has changed everything. 

Advertisers have realized that unauthorized content posted by users basically adds up to free market research and brand building. Allowing users to post the material is an easy way for advertisers to see what’s trending. Companies can still request to have content removed, but most of them are happy to use it to sell ads. 

"The vast majority (of advertisers) choose to monetize and track rather than block the videos," Fred von Lohmann, legal director for copyright at Google, which acquired YouTube in 2006, told the Financial Times.

The tide has turned so dramatically that some companies are making Content ID a vital part of their digital advertising strategy. FremantleMedia, the production company behind "X-Factor" and "Britain’s Got Talent," regularly uses clips uploaded by viewers. The company has found that allowing the content to stay online drives audience interest in their programming. 

"For us, it’s like flipping a switch to an immediate expansion of our business," said Olivier Delfosse, FremantleMedia’s senior VP of digital told Variety

It’s obvious that Youtube has become an essential part of building a brand’s digital presence. A recent clip, uploaded by a fan of "Korea’s Got Talent," generated more than 125 million viewers. That’s 125 million-plus people that advertisers would have missed out on had the producers demanded its removal. 

Major brands have learned that harnessing the immense talent and creativity of YouTubers is a great way to foster growth. YouTube has become an avenue for advertisers to reach a huge market, but there’s more to it than that. 

By allowing YouTube creators more freedom, advertisers benefit from the genuine relationships these creators build with their audiences. It can be tough to build authentic ties to consumers via traditional means, making the success of Content ID an especially promising opportunity for advertisers.

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