Making Money Off Online Video

    May 7, 2008

If you think about some of the bigger people in search, very few of them are involved with video.  Robert Scoble has his whiteboard chats, of course, and Rand Fishkin puts up the occasional clip.  But video often gets overlooked as a money-making tool, and that (lack of) decision needs to be examined.

Admittedly, there’s often not an immediate return on creating online videos; YouTube isn’t mailing $100 bills to every person who uploads something.  A few websites have established a views-for-money exchange rate, though, and that can’t be considered a bad thing.

Darius Monsef lists,, and as a few examples.  Each site has a different "tone," if you will, so that a person or business can side with whatever suits them best.  Also, "Metacafe breaks it down to ‘$5 per 1,000 views,’" and "[i]f Current airs your ad, you make $2,500.  If the company decides to air it elsewhere you could earn up to $60k."

Andy Samberg
 Andy Samberg

Then there’s the chance of hitting a true jackpot.  Consider individuals like Andy Samberg, Amanda Congdon, and Tay Zonday who used online videos to get what might be considered "real-world" (and conceivably "high-paying") jobs.  And in reference to certain black-clad YouTube stars, Monsef mentions, "In January of 2007, the comedy team signed a deal with ad network Federated Media that was reported to be worth at least $300k/year if Ask a Ninja maintained its traffic levels."

Even if an online video campaign doesn’t directly bring in tons of money, the potential exposure is impressive.  Search YouTube for common words like "car" or "soda" just to see how many views can be gotten.  Some clips are like ads that people want to view, and positioning the name of either yourself or your company in front of thousands of consumers is sure to result in some traffic and/or sales.

It’s wise to consider the possibility that nothing exciting will happen, however.  For every video that gets six dozen positive comments, there must be hundreds that only receive two or three negative remarks.  Perhaps worse yet (from a marketer’s perspective) is the idea of getting no attention at all.

Try not to pour every last dollar and ounce of energy into making online videos, then; as with anything, the outcome can tend towards success or failure.  Yet it’s odd that more people aren’t taking a shot at making money with clips, and the sooner you try, the more likely you are to beat the competition.