We all know the history of the Viacom and YouTube litigation: users relentlessly uploaded clips of The Daily Show and other premium content to YouTube. Viacom didn’t like the “settlement” deal Google offered after it acquired the site and so Viacom sued for a billion dollars in copyright violations. That suit may partly succeed or may fail spectacularly for Viacom.
But the paradigm has now been superceded by technology offered by a company called Auditude. The company’s technology is being used by MTV (whose parent company is Viacom) to deliver ads on videos uploaded by users to MySpace.
The way that it works is as follows: professionally produced videos are “fingerprinted” and immediately identified across the Internet wherever they may be. Rather than issue cease and desist letters against sites, content producers can instead sell ads on these videos wherever they may show up. And advertisers can buy spots associated with this premium content wherever it may appear online, regardless of the site. In other words, advertisers can buy shows not sites. (It makes buying online video more like buying conventional TV for advertisers.)
Indeed, the system solves a range of problems for all the interested parties. It also addresses the vexing problem, for bands and national advertisers, of how to “safely” advertise on social media sites — at least as it pertains to video.
Brands and national advertisers have been wary of advertising on social media sites where the content is something of a wild card. This system allows them to advertise in association with a particular show or piece of content rather than worry about buying ads on MySpace per se, or elsewhere, and wondering what’s going to show up next to their brands.
YouTube offers something similar (since last year), which identifies copyrighted content uploaded to the site and offers copyright holders the option to gain a rev share of ads associated with that content — if they don’t otherwise ask for it to be removed.
Auditude, ultimately, is an ad network that cleverly ties its “inventory” to particular shows and content, rather than destinations. In this way, every time a piece of content is uploaded to another social media it represents another potential set of eyeballs for the associated ad.
With most people watching huge amounts of video online — more than 80 videos per person and 558 million aggregated hours of video (comScore) on a monthly basis in the US alone — monetizing video online becomes critical for traditional content producers. And there’s almost no way to effective police all the user uploads; so the Auditude approach is a very clever solution.