The YouTube profitability watch continues and they have helped fuel the rumors themselves stating that the home page on the site was sold out in Q4 2009. I wonder if they have a waiting list for that?
AdvertisingAge recently reported that YouTube is a "must-buy for the Entertianment business," that's a far cry from the mostly user-generated and copyright infringing material and status of around a year ago. Others have even stated that movie studios have been "...sparking bidding wars for critical Thursday and Friday real estate..."
AdAge also stated that it is the go-to place to reach young audiences that are looking to browse some video, that means movie trailers galore. With films opening on Thursdays and people going out on Fridays and the weekends, what better time to have your trailer or film pop up on the front page of the second largest search engine in the world? Certainly it must have some impact on box office numbers. I wouldn't mind seeing a study done on that actually. Even Avatar, the latest James Cameron drivel (my personal opinion - visually stunning, Dune's story ripped off), bought out the home page in 15 countries.
With YouTube already in place and with an active audience it allows for interactions like the recent Warner Bros.' Valentine's Day event at YouTube that allowed users to make video Valentine's Day greetings. Things like this will certainly help box office goers and fans of franchises hook into the latest film without having to leave their computer screen. It will also help virally spread the word as you can bet that everyone one of those videos had some reference to or clip from the film in them. I personally didn't see any so I'm guessing what I would do if I were the marketing person on that. If they didn't that was a huge lost opportunity.
What is really key, I think, is that film studios don't need to show pre-rolls, which many users are not interested in watching. Since YouTube is the de facto video search online (albeit for their own videos) just simply having your film trailers there and available have to raise the film's awareness. Many agree that when you go to search for a video, you start at YouTube. If they don't have what you want or you don't find it what's your second step? Personally, I just use Google and what's the most common site for video search results there? Yep! YouTube!
This trend is certainly going to continue no doubt. Being able to takeover the front page of YouTube for a launch weekend could certainly be far less work than creating an entire interactive video site for each film the studio produces. While it might not be any cheaper, it could certainly be far more effective. Personally, I don't go to many film sites to watch trailers, many can be seen on the local cinema web pages here. If I do go to a film-specific website, it's because I'm looking for something specific, generally not the trailer. Plus, without seeing the trailer you have to find out what the domain name is and then go to the site and track down the video. On YouTube just plug in the film name and you should have the trailer in a few seconds.
While Google and YouTube may never give us actual numbers on the profitability of the site I'm certain we can extrapolate just how well they're doing by how many days the home page is filled with paying advertisements. Three full months, at the height of the holiday season, is certainly nothing to scoff at. If they can manage that for half a year, I would bet they're doing pretty well.