TV experts have advised brands and content providers that to effectively monetise YouTube they must recognise the platform is "not a broadcast platform, but a social channel".
Speaking on the 'How to make money out of YouTube’ panel at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, experts from Gleam, FremantleMedia, and Maverick debated the best avenues to monetise content on the platform which has a monthly reach of one billion viewers.
YouTube talent agency Gleam Futures’ managing director Dom Smale said: "It's about community and personality.Engagement is the valuable bit content makers need to listen to the community.
"On YouTube the people on the other side of the screen are the commissioners, the studio bosses and the editors and you need to respond to them.
With the average TV viewer in the UK now in their mid-50s, YouTube presented the biggest opportunity to reach an audience that haven't ever "watched linear TV," he added.
Joining Smales on the panel was head of YouTube activities, Freemantle Media Robbie Spargo, and Dan Jones; director of digital at Maverick.
Jones revealed the easiest way for content makers to start making money from YouTube was to upload their archive content first and foremost.
"Archive is a brilliant starting point as content is the most expensive part of being on YouTube. Then you can look at building new channels, original content and branded content," he said.
With YouTubers drawing in millions of views everyday, it's obvious why brands would want to work with them, though with YouTube success pinned on the personalities Smales warned brands looking for a cheap advertising venture "no-one gives a shit about the brand, you have to make the content interesting".
He added: "The talent aren't all about the money.
"The YouTube audience don't care about the brands, they care about the talent. When it comes to branded content, YouTubers still have the control, the companies have money.
"You might lose a bit of control over the link or when in your schedule you upload a video though," he continued, with Jones adding that branded content was a good way to subsidise the cost of organic content.
Of the benefits of online over traditional media, all three panelists agreed that the analytics and metrics afforded by YouTube made the platform far more agile, though this meant content makers needed to also be more flexible.
Spargo remarked: "Don't be afraid to get rid of something that doesn't work, YouTube walks a fine line between exciting and terrifying but you need to have faith in your ideas and remember you're not beholden to anyone other than your audience."
The top takeaway of the session from Jones for any buddying YouTube creator was be prepared to play the "long game".
"Don't expect to cover the cost just from pre-rolls, YouTube is about investing in the long term. It could be five years before you start to make any real money," he said.