User-generated content 2.0

By March 19, 2007

Sharing is nice, but a growing number of people who are posting content on the Internet are hoping for hard cash to reward their creative efforts. Revenue sharing is bound to change the face of the user-generated content revolutio

n. We are getting an audience large enough where we have an opportunity to support creativity through sharing revenue with our users. So in the coming months we are going to be opening that up.” YouTube-founder Chad Hurley’s announcement sent a shock wave through the Internet in late January. Several weeks though, no details have transpired and some YouTubers are poking fun at revenue sharing. Meanwhile, YouTube’s competitors have gotten a head start. Revver, a video-sharing site which caters to aspiring directors and artists, has been adding advertisements to videos since last year. Whenever a viewer clicks on the ad, the creator receives 50% of the revenue while Revver pockets the rest. Has anybody gotten rich yet? Hard to say. Other models are meeting with some success. pays creators up front: $25 for an original picture displayed in a gallery and up to $2,000 for original video posted on the homepage. Metacafe, which pays $5 for every thousand views once the video reaches 20,000 views, claims that “the top eighteen creators have earned between $5,000 and $26,000 each based on total views of their short videos on the Metacafe site.” The phenomenon is not restricted to the US either: in England, SeeMeTV, a service by a national telecom company, encourages users to upload their “dumb, freaky, or just plain rude” videos and receive a payment for every view. In February, The New York Times reported that hot YouTube contributors – the kind who can attract tens of thousands of viewers – were being wooed by other sites such as Revver, Metacafe, and with the promise of money and exposure. These arguments were powerful enough to convince infamous Lonelygirl15 who left YouTube for the smaller audiences and cash earnings on Revver. It looks like Chad Hurley has no choice but to join the trend to keep his star contributors and bring up quality.   Bloggers led the way   For a long time now, bloggers have been monetizing their expertise and writing talents. Google AdSense has been their main stream of revenues, though other players have appeared (BlogAds and Chitika’s eMiniMalls are two examples). On ProBlogger, the site he created to help other bloggers make money online, Darren Rowse describes himself as “a full time blogger making a living from this new and dynamic medium”. All he will say is that “in terms of dollar figures…I am still well and truly earning over six figures per year from the following income streams.   earn money with your blog: Problogger (click to enlarge) Chiming in on an online conversation about the money-making potential of blogging, Kevin Burton wrote “I’m making about $35 a month from AdSense. Webalizer claims about 60,000 visits a month. That’s not going to pay the mortgage, but it covers the hosting and some of my coffee habit.” This month, Google’s AdSense launched the creepy-sounding “friend$” program with, an Italian-based provider of social networking and mobile community services. In short, the ads will appear on blogs, but also on users’ social networking pages. In the trend to monetize personal relationships, let’s not forget the controversial practice of word-of-mouth marketing. It looks like we are witnessing the emergence of professional “user-created” content where the Web is just a new, ad-supported way for creators to distribute their work directly to the public. Other users will continue to dabble in content creation and be happy if they make a few bucks in the process.   But hardcore, disinterested user-generated content is not dead. There is Wikipedia and Citizendium, of course. In the latest development in citizen journalism, Wired this week announced Assignment Zero, a “pro-am journalism” project in which contributors will just be happy to collaborate to report news upholding high standards in truth and accuracy. For free. Isabelle Boucq for Atelier  

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