YouTube API strategy may have business appeal

YouTube’s new application programmer interface (API) enhancements and other tools, aimed at helping the online community better connect and engage in the video sharing site, could very well have applicability for the corporate sphere, the company said.

YouTube is providing wholesale access to its video library, worldwide audience, and underlying video hosting and streaming infrastructure behind the site. Enhanced APIs allow developers to build Web-based applications with functionality to upload videos to YouTube, as well as interact with the site by commenting, rating and picking favourite videos. The APIs also allow better capabilities around user-generated content such as uploading video created from mobile devices. Also, developers can customize and control the Flash player upon which video content is run.

Product manager for YouTube, Jim Patterson, said the company is looking forward to discovering how a variety of users, including businesses, will incorporate the APIs in creative new ways. “Using the YouTube APIs and Tools has the potential to bring consumer and enterprise sites, software, or devices into the network,” he said.

YouTube is a “global network of interconnected users and partners and videos accessible through multiple end points, on and off the Web,” said Patterson.

Google bought the San Bruno, Calif.-based video sharing site in late 2006.

Google’s announcement of enhanced YouTube APIs initially appears minor, but the reality is it’s “hugely important and is the most significant thing that Google has done with YouTube since they acquired it,” said Michael O’Connor Clarke, vice-president of Toronto-based public relations firm Thornley Fallis Communications Inc.,

The news illustrates how YouTube has morphed from what was merely a destination for uploading and surfing video content to “a full service,” he added.

YouTube’s broadened scope presents some corporate use for those businesses with video-worthy content and the desire to share it internally or externally, he said. And Google’s sturdy and free backbone infrastructure means businesses can “outsource the pain” of video hosting and sharing, and limited bandwidth to a company that does it well, said O’Connor Clarke.

Furthermore, in the realm of corporate training, he said businesses can build their “own nicely branded intranet or other corporate training facility” using the APIs.

The fact that YouTube is a free platform with a massive audience reach, makes it a ripe stage for businesses to realize a return on investment as part of their marketing strategy, said Warren Shiau, senior associate with Toronto-based consulting firm The Strategic Counsel. He said Google is “certainly trying” to extend the previously un-monetized YouTube platform to corporate users, besides its consumer audience, with the enhanced APIs.

Illustrating ease of access, Shiau said a company training video can be viewed at home on a 12-year-old computer without having to rely on corporate virtual private network.

O’Connor Clarke agreed that extending the business to the YouTube platform would require minimal investment because while developer skills are required to take advantage of the APIs, those skills are reasonably readily available.

And corporations need not be deterred by YouTube’s image as a consumer platform, he added, because although it has been driven by user-generated content till now, companies are increasingly repurposing corporate material for the site. “The perception that it’s consumer dominated is starting to go away with more forward looking organizations,” he said.

YouTube’s enhanced APIs are also a great opportunity for digital marketing agencies to help their clients understand and integrate this Web 2.0 platform into the business, he said.

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