YouTube's 1 Trillion Playbacks Set Stage for Display Ad Growth

YouTube unveiled its most-watched videos and most-viewed ads of 2011. Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray analysts expect YouTube to be the linchpin of Google's display ad efforts.

YouTube counted more than 1 trillion playbacks on the video-sharing site this year, or roughly 140 views for every person on Earth, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) video sharing Website said.

The Website, which said 48 hours of video are uploaded to the Website every minute, revealed its most-watched videos of 2011. The site gauged global view counts of popular videos uploaded throughout the year.

Rebecca Black's "Friday," video led the top 10 videos watched worldwide. YouTube rewarded her by letting her host this year's "YouTube Rewind" look back at the most-watched videos of the year.

YouTube isn't serving all that video content without some serious advertising. The video site also shared the most-watched ads on YouTube in 2011. This Volkswagen ad led the top 10 most-watched ads, while this Chevy ad came in third. Both were Super Bowl ads.

However, most of the ads never aired on broadcast TV, which illustrates the opportunity YouTube has going forward for pairing ads with original content.

These included T-Mobile's Royal Wedding at No. 2, and DC Shoe's Gymkhana Four, at No. 4. Both were exclusive to YouTube.

YouTube is evolving. While its first five years were a blur of user-generated content, YouTube hopes to boost user engagement by offering users streaming movie rentals and broadcast channels with original content. More users spending more time on YouTube significantly increases the ad-serving opportunities for Google.

Calling YouTube the "Super Bowl of the Web," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said that while YouTube may only account for 3.5 percent of Google's total gross revenue this year, YouTube portends great things for Google's display ad business.

The Website enjoys 800 million unique visitors per month, or the same volume as Facebook. YouTube also sees 25 billion searches a month, twice that of Yahoo and 10 times that of Facebook, he added in a Dec. 15 research note.

"We believe YouTube is the company's flagship offering in its display products and is encouraging advertisers to branch out to Google's other display products," Munster wrote. "We remain confident that YouTube will exceed $1.3 billion in gross revenue for 2011."

Moreover, he expects YouTube will grow revenue 60 percent year-over-year in 2012, surpassing $2 billion in gross revenue.