What Does "Monetize" Mean on YouTube?

By John Lister

YouTube monetization can give you income from the right clip.
i Ethan Miller/Getty Images News/Getty Images

How would you like to promote your business and make cash at the same time? "Monetize" is the term YouTube uses for its official program that allows users to make money from the clips they upload. YouTube has strict criteria for which clips are eligible to make money. For those which are eligible, the uploader can share in revenue from advertisements shown before, during or alongside the clip.


For a clip to be eligible for monetization, it must be made up entirely of content you have created and to which you own the intellectual property rights. You cannot monetize clips where you have used some original creativity but contain copyrighted content, such as uploading new commentary on somebody else's footage, or creating a montage of clips from other sources. You cannot monetize a clip you have shot yourself that has any audio or video of copyrighted material in the background such as from your TV or stereo. YouTube reserves the right to refuse to let you monetize a clip that has content which is not "advertiser-friendly" even if you are allowed to upload the clip in the first place.


You can submit a video for monetization when you originally upload it by making sure to check the "Monetize my video" box on the "Monetization" tab of the upload page. Alternatively, you can locate a video you've already uploaded in your channel's Video Manager section and then check the "Monetize my video" box under the "Monetization" tab. YouTube will review the clip and will ask you to confirm you own the rights to the content, providing proof if necessary. Once you have a clip accepted, you'll need to link your YouTube account to a Google AdSense account to receive payment.


YouTube doesn't publicly reveal how much it pays people who have uploaded a video. Media reports suggest it isn't simply a matter of how many people watch a clip, but also how attractive the subject of the clip is to advertisers. This system means you may struggle to find an ideal balance between producing a clip that promotes your business and one that attracts advertisers and viewers. All Things D reported in March 2013 that the uploader usually receives 55 percent of the actual ad revenue and that average payment rates varied from $2.50 to $10 per 1,000 views. You must reach a threshold of earnings before you get a payment; in the U.S. the threshold is $100 as of May 2013.


YouTube offers a program called AudioSwap by which you can use copyrighted music in a clip as long as the rights holder has added the song to the AudioSwap library. When this happens, YouTube adds advertisements to the clip but the revenue goes to the music rights holder, not you. If you want to make a clip eligible for monetization, you are not allowed to use AudioSwap songs in the clip.