YouTube's still-rapid viewing growth -- driven by smartphones and to an extent connected TVs -- has a lot to do with its revenue momentum. At last week's NewFronts online video ad event, YouTube disclosed it now had over 1.8 billion monthly logged-in viewers, up from 1.5 billion as of last June. And back in February 2017, YouTube said it was seeing over a billion hours per day of viewing -- that's about three times what Netflix (NFLX) witnessed on a record-breaking day in January, and 10 times what YouTube saw back in 2012.
As an advertiser on YouTube, you're populating your YouTube channel with video advertisements made by you. The difference between YouTube ads and, say, TV commercials, is that you get to show YouTube ads to more specific and often more engaged audience segments. You'll pay YouTube to host your ads on other, highly watched YouTube channels that appeal to the same viewership you're targeting.
Conversely, YouTube has also allowed government to more easily engage with citizens, the White House's official YouTube channel being the seventh top news organization producer on YouTube in 2012 and in 2013 a healthcare exchange commissioned Obama impersonator Iman Crosson's YouTube music video spoof to encourage young Americans to enroll in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)-compliant health insurance. In February 2014, U.S. President Obama held a meeting at the White House with leading YouTube content creators to not only promote awareness of Obamacare but more generally to develop ways for government to better connect with the "YouTube Generation". Whereas YouTube's inherent ability to allow presidents to directly connect with average citizens was noted, the YouTube content creators' new media savvy was perceived necessary to better cope with the website's distracting content and fickle audience.
And though they don't appear to be huge revenue contributors at this point, the YouTube Red and YouTube TV subscription services can't be overlooked when trying to value the company. Particularly YouTube Red, which provides ad-free YouTube, some original shows and access to the Google Play Music service for $10 per month, and which led YouTube to become the top-grossing U.S. iPhone app in March. Later this year, Google plans to replace Google Play Music -- in many ways Red's weak link -- with YouTube Remix, a music service that's fully integrated with YouTube.