With a monthly audience of about 75 million, video site Vimeo doesn’t come close to Google’s YouTube, which drew more than 200 million views just to a single music video, “Gangnam Style.” And while Vimeo’s contributors have gone on to film festivals, YouTube’s have gone on to international stardom (think Justin Bieber or Rebecca Black).
But here’s one thing about Vimeo that appeals to some video creators: While YouTube makes money by running advertisements before or on top of videos, Vimeo does not. Chief Executive Officer Kerry Trainor said it would upset the tone of the site’s artsy fan base.
So how do Vimeo and its contributors make money without tapping into the video advertising market, which hit $2 billion in the U.S. last year? Starting today, the site is adding a “tip jar,” which lets a viewer click a button by a video to contribute money to the creator. In a few months, the site will also allow users to put their content behind a pay wall and decide what to charge per view.
In addition to helping boost Vimeo’s revenues, these new tools could create a new generation of self-made Internet businesspeople, like the mommy bloggers and e-book writers, Trainor said.
“As opposed to making them partners around an advertising play, we can help them build a business around their videos,” said Trainor, referring to YouTube, which shares ad revenue with some contributors.
For its part, Vimeo will take 15 percent of the tip jar proceeds. The company hasn’t yet decided how much it will take from the pay walls. The video service, which is owned by Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, does not disclose its revenues.
Vimeo’s new features will only be available to paying members. “Plus” users can add the tip jar to their content, while “pro” members, who pay $199 a year, can also put up a pay wall.
“We want to be the high-quality sharing platform,” Trainor said. “It’s never about throwing stones at YouTube.”