YouTube Achieves 1 Billion Viewers Every Month

(Photo: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock.com)

People use it for news, entertainment, advertising, blogging and more. The continually growing and viral nature of  YouTube has the online video site announcing a milestone of reaching 1 billion people visiting each month.

The milestone was announced Wednesday at a splashy event in Santa Monica that was aimed at advertisers and featured performances from some of the website’s biggest stars, such as the bands CDZA and Monsters Calling Home. It marks another step in YouTube’s evolution from a quirky startup launched in 2005 to one of the most influential forces in today’s media landscape.

Here’s what the YouTube Team had to say about it in a blog post:

In the last eight years you’ve come to YouTube to watch, share and fall in love with videos from all over the world. Tens of thousands of partners have created channels that have found and built businesses for passionate, engaged audiences. Advertisers have taken notice: all of the Ad Age Top 100 brands are now running campaigns on YouTube.

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What does a billion people tuning into YouTube look like?

  • Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.
  • Our monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly ten Super Bowl audiences.
  • If YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India.
  • PSY and Madonna would have to repeat their Madison Square Garden performance in front of a packed house 200,000 more times. That’s a lot of Gangnam Style!

YouTube crossed the 1 billion threshold five months after Facebook Inc. said its online social network had reached that figure for the first time. YouTube first hit 800 million monthly visitors in October 2011.

The vast audience has given YouTube’s owner, Google Inc., another lucrative channel for selling online ads beyond its dominant Internet search engine.

In a separate blog post about its users, YouTube described the opportunities with “Generation C,” a group not defined by age but by their behavior:

  • Connection – Gen C watches YouTube on all screens, constantly switching between devices.
  • Creation – Gen C is deeply engaged with online video, watching, creating and uploading videos on YouTube.
  • Community – Gen C thrive on community, defining what’s popular on YouTube by sharing videos with friends and family.
  • Curation – Gen C is made up of expert curators who care about finding content that matters to them.

“Gen C is a powerful demographic – not only are they cultural tastemakers, they influence $500B of spending a year in the U.S. (U.S.Chamber of Commerce). Yet they can be a hard to reach audience for brands,” Google Advertising and Research Director Gunnard Johnson wrote. “Over the next few months, we’ll take a deeper look at Gen C, sharing insights and trends about our audience on YouTube.”

YouTube Achieves 1 Billion Viewers Every Month

Google is researching how “Gen C” uses YouTube on a variety of devices. (Image: ThinkWithGoogle)

Google bought YouTube for $1.76 billion in 2006 when the video site had an estimated 50 million users worldwide.

Since late 2011, YouTube has refocused its site to prioritize watching along distinct channels of its creators. Such channels were seen as better allowing advertisers to focus on certain genres of content like beauty or music.

In 2012, it seeded 96 channels with around $100 million in funding to help them accelerate that growth, often partnering with big-name Hollywood producers and directors that had made it big in movies or TV but not on the Internet, including “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker. Later, YouTube vowed to spend another $200 million marketing the channels to boost viewers.

But Wednesday’s event celebrating its 1 billion milestone focused largely on those who had succeeded on YouTube before the channel-funding strategy was in place, such as Michelle Phan, a YouTuber who has been giving viewers makeup tips since 2006.

Robert Kyncl, vice president and global head of content partnerships, acknowledged to reporters after the event that the channel funding strategy had not worked as well as hoped.

When asked if the channel funding investment had paid off, Kyncl said, “Every year we reserve the right to get smarter.”

He said that while YouTube was committed to continuing to invest in content, he said more of such investment in the future would go to those channels that had already proven they can be successful at building an audience on their own.

“What we’re looking for is the acceleration of those who are figuring out how to retail their content,” he said.

The Associated Press and AP Business Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report.