announced by YouTube last night may not have been what many pundits expected but it could mark a major turning point for both YouTube and thousands of other sites around the web.The video uploading platform
By allowing website owners to combine an on-site video publishing option for their users with the huge number of people looking to discover new content on YouTube, the platform will create a mutually beneficial feedback loop that will breathe new life into both YouTube and the web at large. It's also got potential to show up all the other big platform plays we've seen to date.
A Niche Community Feedback Loop
There is already a large number of niche content sites around the web that host communities interested in everything from knitting to urban drag racing. Many of those sites receive millions of monthly visitors, even though they aren't widely talked about outside their respective niches.
YouTube, on the other hand, is the place to go to find video about anything. Website owners couldn't ask for a better way to make their sites discoverable than this system wherein their existing community can upload video from a niche site but new users can discover the video and links back to those sites from inside the public square that is YouTube.
Meanwhile, YouTube becomes all the more important. If niche site owners have an easy way to publish to YouTube without directing their users off site then those niche communities will be publishing more high quality content to YouTube.
One question that is still unanswered is advertising and revenue sharing. YouTube will likely use display advertising on the channel pages for their new partner sites and those partner sites can do the same back at home. Almost every video ad on the web is annoying and there's no reason to get those involved.
In as much as YouTube's monetization strategy has been to run ads on the pages of trusted content partners, the company is about to get a whole lot of new trusted channels. This content may still be User Generated and thus not completely predictable, but the channel pages from high quality sites using the YouTube platform are going to be much easier to monetize than YouTube in general.
Welcome to the era of the platform. When, years from now, the importance of platforms is recognized by the end-user market at large, it's not going to be the Facebook or OpenSocial platforms that will be known as the first big platform play. Those platforms just let developers build applications on the big sites (though Facebook may not stay that way). This YouTube offering is going to lead to some very noticeable "powered by YouTube" language around the web.
YouTube could go down in history as one of the first publishing services to really recognize the value in pointing people elsewhere. That's a big part of what's so exciting about the web today; not just letting others add value to your site, but adding value to your users' experience by serving as the source for pointers to the best things elsewhere. The YouTube platform could be uniquely good for that. (Speaking of pointing to what's good, Silicon Alley Insider broke the rumor of this move and has been providing good discussion since.)