In recent articles, we have explored how NFTs are starting to be used in a variety of different new areas, platforms, and digital spaces. From game items to tradable digital assets, NFTs seem to be expanding at a fast pace way beyond those goofy cartoons of punky bored apes, as some of the biggest tech companies such as Twitter and Meta announce their upcoming NFT plans. Not surprisingly, it has been YouTube executives who have been referring recently to the prospect of leveraging NFTs to improve some of the services offered by the platform both to users and content creators. But why does YouTube need NFTs, and how are they planning to use them?
The importance of encouraging creators
Despite their thrive for constant innovation, platforms such as YouTube depend heavily on content creators to keep their dynamism. Also, back in 2005, when Jawed Karim recorded and posted the dazzling, hilariously redundant “Me at the Zoo” video on YouTube, there wasn’t as much competition as there is now. Social media was only taking its first steps. There was no Instagram, no Snapchat, no TikTok. It actually feels like another age – and in a way, it was. But in any case, YouTube has found a way to keep growing through all these changes on the Internet. And one of the main drives for this successful history of innovation and adaptation is how this Google-owned company has developed strategies to motivate content creators to keep feeding the platform with their work.
Now, there is a wide set of monetizing strategies used by creators to increase their earnings. Revenue from Google ads, sponsorship, merchandising, paid subscriptions, and channel memberships, all of these allows thousands of creators around the world to make a living out of their videos. And although it may seem that most YouTubers are earning good money, the truth is the amounts they receive can vary greatly, and most of them are in constant pursuit of new opportunities to improve and expand their fanbase, their monetization strategies, and their earnings.
That being said, YouTube’s declared goal to leverage a relatively recent technology, such as blockchain, to continue motivating content creators to share their videos on the platform seems reasonable.
NFTs’ “incredible potential”
In a recent letter published in their blog, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki referred to NFTs as presenting “a previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans.” Right now, many YouTubers offer different types of content to their followers according to what we could call “levels of fandom.” Special content for patrons, Whatsapp, or Telegram groups for paid subscribers is the type of strategy that creators are currently using. As YouTube CPO Neal Mohan has hinted recently, NFTs may give them the opportunity to take this to a new level, giving creators “a verifiable way for fans to own unique videos, photos, art, and even experiences from their favorite creators.” In yet another letter in which opportunities to use NFTs were addressed, Mohan highlighted the “incredible potential” of these new technologies.
Details on how NFTs will be integrated into the YouTube ecosystem have not yet come to the surface. However, we can assume that holders of an NFT collection will be granted exclusive access to part of a creator’s content or given badges during live streams, as this could significantly enhance monetization opportunities for creators. Another more straightforward use for tokens could simply be to sell videos or fragments of videos as NFTs.