YouTube was created by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim in February of 2005. The site gave users the ability to upload, share, and view videos. In Exploiting YouTube: Contradictions of User-Generated Labor, Mark Andrejevic refers to the site as a “convergent medium”, one in which “familiar music videos and copyrighted movie clips rub shoulders with original user-generated content and with content that combines original material with copyrighted material” (Andrejevic 407).
This site’s self-proclaimed purpose (“Broadcast Yourself”) became conflicted when it was acquired by Google in 2006. Google bought the site for a relatively steep price with the intention of making a profit; however, they have not been as successful as was expected. Andrejevic’s argument revolves around Google’s monetary pursuit on a website that embraces the idea of ‘community’. He explains, the interactive marketing model promotes participation as a form of consumer “control” but balks at the prospect of relinquishing control over the relationship between content advertising (Andrejevic 416). In order to produce the most profitable campaigns, marketers endeavor to have control over the environment in which their advertisements are seen. YouTube’s promotion of user-created content makes attempting this problematic on the site. Google cannot have complete control over the advertisement’s environment when the user is given so much power in the area of content creation. Advertisers cannot ensure that the environment will be conducive to commercial promotion. This seemingly irreconcilable issue may cause some to label YouTube unprofitable, but Google has persisted.
There is now an official ‘YouTube Advertisers’ page. The page has several playlists including: ‘YouTube Ads Leaderboard – A celebration of ads people choose to watch’ and ‘YouTube Re;View – The Weekly Five: Top trending videos from the past week’. It appears that Google seeks to resolve the noncommercial nature of YouTube by presenting the advertisers has part of the community. Like other members of the YouTube community, advertisers are simply aiming to have highly watched videos and to pay attention to what is popular (even if it is for marketing purposes). The are not gauging success of product placement in certain areas of the site, they are ‘celebrating ads people chose to watch’ as if it were the People’s Choice Awards.