For example if your YouTube Channel happens to provide valuable video content for a very specific audience. Say the channel teaches business owner how to organize their finances, track their expenses and save money on taxes. Any company who is trying to reach business owners would love to place their ads on that channel because you would both share the same demographic. The people who view that channel are their potential customers.
Watching my daughter play with my phone is a horrifying experience, precisely because her mimicry of adult behaviors is already so accurate. Her tiny fingers poke at buttons, pinch to zoom, endlessly scroll. It’s as though she’s grown a new brain from her fingertips. Most parents feel some version of this horror. Watching them poke and pinch at our devices, we realize that these rectangles of light and compulsion are not going away, and we are all dosing ourselves with their pleasures and conveniences without knowing the consequences.
Much of YouTube's revenue goes to the copyright holders of the videos. In 2010, it was reported that nearly a third of the videos with advertisements were uploaded without permission of the copyright holders. YouTube gives an option for copyright holders to locate and remove their videos or to have them continue running for revenue. In May 2013, Nintendo began enforcing its copyright ownership and claiming the advertising revenue from video creators who posted screenshots of its games. In February 2015, Nintendo agreed to share the revenue with the video creators.
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.
In re: your second point, getting users to pay for content is absolutely part of the equation, but not the entire equation. The whole other half of it is creating ways to minimize the cut a middleman takes such that even if it’s zero sum game, more of the sum is going to the content creators, as well as developing new revenue streams that don’t require a direct cost from users to give direct profit to content creators.
The good news is that income is rising, but efforts to generate a broad and loyal audience that turn to the service on a regular basis for original content appear to have hit a wall. The Journal points out how three years ago YouTube spent hundreds of millions of dollars on original content to build new channels, only to see many of them fail. Getting people to visit the site directly and regularly because there’s something specific they want to see, rather than dropping by occasionally via a link on another site or online service, appears to be a big challenge for the company.
Knowing who you are and, perhaps more importantly, who your audience is will make you attractive to advertisers, sponsors and partners outside the YouTube sphere, experts say. Make sure to also set yourself up as someone who is "brand safe," says Tyler Vaught, head of Niche, Twitter's service that connects creators worldwide with brands to develop branded content. That could mean not using profanities, avoiding charged political topics and dodging drug references and other controversial topics on your channel.
Both In-Stream and Discovery are pay-per-view -- you pay YouTube a fixed rate for every view the ad receives -- and their return on investment (ROI) can be measured in Google AdWords. YouTube tallies one new "view" after 30 seconds of watching, or a click on the video as it's playing. If the video is less than 30 seconds, views are tallied from people who watch the entire ad.
YouTube earns advertising revenue from Google AdSense, a program which targets ads according to site content and audience. The vast majority of its videos are free to view, but there are exceptions, including subscription-based premium channels, film rentals, as well as YouTube Premium, a subscription service offering ad-free access to the website and access to exclusive content made in partnership with existing users.