Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, November 13, 2006

Internet Video - How To Monetize Your Independent Video Content

Sponsored Links

Online video pays itself. The opportunities to monetize online video are rapidly increasing. You need not find anymore a distribution house to make your video- or film-making passion pay back for your hard work.

Photo credit: Miodran Gajic

2006 has been the internet's year of video, and as independent video publishing becomes easier than ever, and increasingly ubiquitous, the landscape presents a great many new opportunties.

One of the biggest changes is the sudden, recent rise of means by which video publishers and advertisers can pool their resources to monetize video content. With the recent acquisition of YouTube by Google, the blogosphere has been rife with speculation as to how Google will incorporate its Adsense technologies into its new acquisition.

But YouTube aside, there are a growing number of ways that advertisers are reaching new, targeted audiences and video producers are starting to see financial rewards for the content they are uploading to the internet.

In this guide to the state of play of the internet video monetization sphere, I take you through the key services and strategies currently being used by advertisers, vloggers and independent producers. From "Pre-Roll" and "Post-Roll" to "Walnuts" and "Duckies", there are more opportunities now than there have ever been to put your online audio-visual content to work for you.

Photo credit: Yekmang Loke

Pre-Roll and Post-Roll Advertising

By far the most established model of advertising in online video is the use of Pre-Roll and Post-Roll ad placement.

Pre-Roll ads are placed, as you might imagine, before the video proper begins, and tend to be anywhere from five to thirty seconds in length.

Post-Roll advertising works in a similar way, but by placing the advertising content at the end of the video instead of before it. As such, Post-Roll tends to be shorter, and is very often limited to a single, still or flash-animated image.

Certainly, the placement of too long a Pre-Roll ad is one way to infuriate an audience into not watching the clip, and the more effective advertising that uses this approach will keep the advertising brief, and with luck, relevant to the video clip being watched. There is nothing worse than sitting through a generic advertisement for something entirely ill-suited to the video you wanted to watch. Luckily, there are several services attempting to make content both effective and relevant.



Revver was explicitly set up to bring an effective business model to online, user generated video. Revver uses inobtrusive, Post-Roll, static image advertising at the end of its clips, and then splits the advertising revenue earned from these clips on a 50/50 basis with the video producer. Added to this, those who become Revver affiliates can cream 20% of the revenue off the top for sharing the video, thus encouraging viral spread of the video by compensating those that spread it around the web.

Video specifications: 100 MB maximum file size.

Monetization Model: Post-Roll Advertising

Profit Share: 50% for video producers, 20% off the top for those sharing video content

Advantages: Easy to sign up, easy to use. Post-Roll is an inobtrusive advertising format.

Disadvantages: Limited to 100 MB file size for movies, which could limit quality and length of videos.

Sign up for Revver.



Brightroll is a video-ad network serving video pre-roll advertisements and text, banner and video post-roll advertisements. With the ability to use Quicktime, WMV or Flash video, a selection of quality advertisers and what the company describes as "industry leading CPM rates" Brightroll is a flexible and attractive option for those seeking to add advertising to their video on a per-click basis.

Brighttroll uses an optimization engine to contextualize advertising to the video it is applied to:

''BrightRoll leverages video, category and website context to determine the optimal ad to serve on any given impression. Context is derived from data about the video, such as tags, video category or website ID, from keyword profiles of the website or category, or from historical contextual data about the page, site or video. Our optimization engine is constantly testing contextual hypotheses in order to serve the right ad, to the right user at the right time.''
(Brightroll Website, 2006)

Video specifications: Any length, or size. WMV, Quicktime or Flash formats.

Monetization Model: Pre-Roll, Banner, Text and Post-Roll advertising

Profit Share: "Industry leading CPM rates"

Advantages: Flexibility in terms of video format and size, flexible selection of advertising options, pre-existing ad-network to draw on, video/advertising contextualization

Disadvantages: Less instantaneous than the likes of Revver

Video examples: Pre roll and examples.

Sign Up for Brightroll.



With the launch of Brightcove's new and improved range of services, as recently reviewed in full, there are now a great many ways for independent video producers to make use of the Brightcove network in the monetization of their work. Among them is the use of pre-roll, post-roll and mid-roll (advertising set in the middle of a video, between segments of a line up for instance) video.

The video producer can define key points within the video to decide where the advertising will be played, and advertisers can take advantage of a breadth of options by utilizing the Brightcove Adnet. This is in addition to the host of other monetization features offered by Brightcove, as further detailed below.

Video specifications: Any length, or size. Flash video, although Brightcove's console will convert almost all footage to this format automatically.

Monetization Model: Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll and Post-Roll placement, defined by the video producer

Profit Share: 50% for video producers, 20% off the top for those sharing Britghtcove video

Advantages: Ability to select and place Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll or Post-Roll advertising, integrated with other monetization solutions (see below)

Disadvantages: Greater control of content makes for lengthy preparation for publishing as compared to more user-generated focused sites

Sign Up for Brightcove.

Channel-Based Point of Access Advertising

For those with enough website traffic, one alternative means of monetization is the creation of site-based advertising. By selling advertising space that surrounds the video directly, it is possible to cut out the middle man altogether. However, this approach is not without its drawbacks. Site-specific advertising cuts out any revenue that might be made from video that makes it to other sites as viral content, and requires significant site traffic to draw willing advertisers in the first place. On a positive note, it does allow complete autonomy over how and what you advertise.

A different approach is the use of branded channels managed by an external service, which allow for the customization of video players to include advertising banners and branding of content. While this does not afford the same control as the independent route, it does allow for the embedding of content across the internet, rather than on a single website.

Independent Monetization - Case Study: Ze Frank's "Duckies"

ze_duckies (1).jpg

Ze Frank's The Show is one of the most popular Vlog's on the net, and in addition to using Revver to monetize his content, daily video blogger Ze Frank has added another means of drawing revenue from his show. Part of Frank's routine involves heavy reference to rubber "duckies", and their cult status has given him the opportunity to sell sponsorship beneath his videos to willing audience members so that they can leave messages for the world to see. Depending on how much they pay, users get a smaller or larger graphic, which - upon rollover - will display their message to site visitors.

While the inclusion of "duckies" is very specific to Frank's show and audience, the idea is a simple and effective one that could be adapted to other sites, under different circumstances, with the proviso that there was already significant interest in the
video content.

Video specifications: None

Monetization Model: Direct sales of advertising space to visitors community or advertisers

Profit Share: 100%

Advantages: Complete control over advertising content, 100% profit from any revenues

Disadvantages: Limited to a single website, requires large audience to garner interest



In addition to the aforementioned video-roll based advertising solutions, Brighcove offers the opportunity to deliver advertising through your own branded
channel, which can quickly be put together using templates, or for more advanced users, totally customized through Brightcove's open APIs. These channels are both hosted at, and can be embedded into your own sites
using a simple Embed code that you can drop into any blog or web page. With user control over where ads are placed in relationship to the video content, this is another option for the monetization of your video which can be used instead of
or in addition to advertising within the video itself.

Video specifications: Any length, or size. Flash video and WMV, although Brightcove's console will convert almost all footage to these formats.

Monetization Model: Banner advertising placed according to the selections made by the video producer

Profit Share: 50% for video producers, 20% off the top for those sharing Britghtcove video

Advantages: Ability to embed channels directly into websites and blogs, ability to run channel advertising in addition to or instead of video-based advertising

Disadvantages: Greater control of content makes for lengthy preparation for publishing as compared to more user-generated focused sites

Sign Up for Brightcove.

Selling Your Video Content

Direct sales of your video, either to a corporation or to individuals, in another means of monetizing your productions. There is a growing marketplace for quality homegrown content, and services
that will offer to buy your work and all rights to it, or simply take a cut on web distribution of your video in high quality formats.



Brightcove in association with AOL Video offer the opportunity to sell near-DVD quality video in the Windows Media Video 9 format from both the Brightcove and AOL Video marketplaces. Video producers can set their own price, starting at 99¢, and profits are shared on a 70/30 basis in favour of the producer. Video conversion, the application of DRM, and automated search engine placement are all dealt with through the service.

Video specifications: Any length, WMV 9 only

Monetization Model: Rental and/or outright purchase prices set by the video producer

Profit Share: 70% of profits go to the producer

Advantages: Brightcove and AOL offer excellent visibility for your videos, and deal with the process of adding DRM protection and search engine placement

Disadvantages: WMV 9 is Windows only: Mac and GNU/Linux users cannot buy it. DRM is increasingly unpopular in the marketplace.

Sign Up for Brightcove/AOL.

DivX Stage6


DivX Stage6 offers a marketplace for producers that want their work to be viewed in high quality, full screen DivX, either on a computer, or when burned to a DVD, which
the DivX format allows for. Using a Download-to-own model, rather than the optional rental service offered by Brightcove, Stage6 video producers can set their own price, of which DivX take a 10% transaction fee, and $0.0033 per megabyte surcharge. Viewers require a Windows PC with the free DivX Player.

Video specifications: Any length, DivX format only.

Monetization Model: Download-to-own sale of videos, with the price set by the producer.

Profit Share: 90% of the profits go to the producer, minus the $0.0033 per megabyte surcharge.

Advantages: Super high quality video that can be easily burned to DVD and almost 90% of the profits for the producer.

Disadvantages: The need to download and use the DivX player, and access to the service only available to Windows users.

Sign Up for DivX Stage6.

Yahoo! Current Network


Yahoo! Current Network is a partnership between Current TV and Yahoo Video that aims to buy quality user-generated video content for their website and for TV broadcast. Payment is for exclusive rights, and must fit the channel's requirments. Successful videos are paid at $500 to $1000, depending on how many videos a user has previously submitted. With other options including $250 user-made promos, and $1000 per successful user-generated advertisement, this is an interesting option for those looking to hawk their video making skills, working on particular assignments.

Video specifications: Very tight specifications in terms of length, submission and content. See the Current.TV FAQ for more details.

Monetization Model: Varying once-only and sliding-scale fees depending on the assignment.

Profit Share: N/A

Advantages: For those looking to work to tightly defined assignments

Disadvantages: Rights to video content are signed over, content must fit Channel's very specific guidelines

Sign Up for Yahoo! Current here.


Yet another approach video sharing sites have taken is to pay video contributors rewards for the amount of views their video receives, either from a communal 'pot', where money is collected from producers and distributed according to popularity, or else from advertising revenues. While it is unlikely that anyone is going to get rich through such an approach, popular videos can see substantial profits.



Metacafe runs a Producer Awards scheme that pays out anything from $100 to $10,000 on views of user-generated videos.
Metacafe will pay you $5 for every thousand views your video gets on their site. Payment starts when your video reaches 20,000 views and has a rating of 3.00 or higher which is an indication of the video's
popularity. With claims of over 1,000,000 users per day, the potential to earn good money from viral content is there.

Video specifications: No limit set, but under 5 minutes considered good form. Entertaining or funny clips are encouraged.

Monetization Model: $5 per 1000 views over 20,000

Profit Share: N/A

Advantages: Popular videos are capable of earning large profits. Rights to video content are retained by the video producer.

Disadvantages: Unless your video hits the right note, your popularity may effect your potential to earn.

Sign Up for Metacafe.

Lulu TV


Lulu TV uses a slightly different model, with users signing up for a membership, and paying a monthly $14.95 subscription. 80% of the total of all of the subscriptions is put into 'the pot' and distributed among the most successful videos. If the site gets 1 million video views and your video(s) get 10,000 of those. That's 1% of the total views. So you get 1% of the Shareholder cash pool. You can have up to 10 clips per month in the pool.

Video specifications: 100 Megabytes maximum file size. Accepts FLash, MPEG-4, WMV, AVI and QT formats

Monetization Model: See below

Profit Share: Based on a percentile of overall site views and monthly subscription revenue

Advantages: Lulu.TV claims to have paid out over $20,000 to video makers. Community element and crowd sourcing a novel approach.
Disadvantages: Having to pay $14.95 a month to stand a chance of turning a profit

Sign Up for Lulu.TV.

Contextual Video Advertising - The Next Phase?

There is currently a lot of talk about the possibilities of surrounding video with contextual advertising, like that used by Google Adsense, instead of or in addition to the forms of advertising previously mentioned.

In this short video clip, originally from Beet.TV, Charlene Li of Forrester Research
discusses the need for contextual advertising around video clips in the evolving online video landscape.

One partnership offering a combination of contextual advertising and the post-roll format is that between and Blip.TV. Matching the tags in user-generated videos to those supplied by's advertising clients, post-roll contextual text advertisements (know as 'Walnuts') are placed at the end of clips. For more information on this new service, visit Immen.Se's website.


While none of the services listed promise to make you a movie millionaire overnight, the possibilities for monetizing your online video productions have multiplied in a very short space of time, and continue to do so. Using one, or indeed several, of the monetization methods listed above it is becoming increasingly feasible to put your video to work for you, and the options are expanding as online video goes from strength to strength.

The different services touched on in this overview will appeal to different video makers for different reasons, but special kudos goes to Brightcove for offering the most fully rounded range of options to the video producer, and the appeal of using a single service to draw on a breadth of revenue streams is an appealing one. As the landscape matures we can expect to see more services cut from the same cloth, offering advertisers and producers opportunities to both retain control of their content and source funding for future productions from a number of sources.

Whether you are bedroom vlogger or a fully fledged production company, there are now a good many ways to seek out financial rewards for your video making efforts. Internet TV has just left its infancy, and now is an exciting and challenging time to make your mark in this fresh, evolving landscape.

Read More Elsewhere

You can find even more ways to monetize your video at the following sites:

Michael Pick -
Readers' Comments    
2011-03-07 07:23:24


Just for info, Flowplayer now also has a rev-share program with AdSense For Video. Like youtube, but you don't have to wait ages before getting noticed by Youtube.

2010-06-19 17:12:44

andrew kucharski

There is also a model for monetizing your videos and knowledge by actually selling them. Powerlearning21, mindbites, spakeo and soon others will come out where teachers and professionals will be able to post premium quality content and monetize it by obtaining a paid subscription or a pay-to-watch fee.

2009-06-23 19:47:33

Brent G.

Also check out Monetize Media. They offer a complete online video solution for monetizing live streaming video with subscription, membership, pay per view, credits, token, and other video monetization features. They are more geared toward businesses.

2009-03-23 11:47:49


Just wanted to make mention of MindBites as another option for those looking to monetize video content online (provided it's instructional in nature). Creators of video content can upload, price, and sell video lessons (up to 350MB in size) in the MindBites marketplace. Refer to www.mindbites.comteach for additional information.

2009-01-21 23:25:15


Lots of good content here. Online video advertising has become a large industry and an effective way to reach a large multitude of targeted audiences. Online video promotion is an excellent way to get your message out.

2007-04-18 14:31:54

john griffin

good compilation of sites that pay. scott kirsner has a great wrap up as well. i am not affiliated with him but thought i would share. also keep an eye out for Cutcaster as a new way to monetize video online.

2006-11-13 10:36:24

Bruce Wagner


An excellent article. Extremely comprehensive and well-written.

Thank you!

posted by Michael Pick on Monday, November 13 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Search this site for more with 








    Curated by

    New media explorer
    Communication designer


    POP Newsletter

    Robin Good's Newsletter for Professional Online Publishers  



    Real Time Web Analytics