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YouTube toys with paid subscription model as half of users go mobile

According to a top executive at Google, Susan Wojcicki, YouTube is now considering paid, ad-free subscriptions for its users, half of whom are now mobile.

After spending years heading up advertising at Google, Wojcicki became CEO of YouTube last February and at the Code/Mobile conference she made clear that she has big plans for a step change.

"YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users; but there's going to be a point where people don't want to see the ads," Wojcicki said in an onstage interview. Consumers generally "will either choose ads, or pay a fee, which is an interesting model... We're thinking about how to give users options."

While Wojcicki wouldn't offer specifics, she also hinted that she was interested in pursuing other subscription models as well.

YouTube or YouPay?

Having overseen the advertising of Google products like AdSense, AdWords and DoubleClick, it makes sense that Wojcicki would want to build on her strong background in the ad business in her new role at YouTube.

"We've been thinking about other ways it might make sense for us [at YouTube]. We're early in that process, but if you look at media over time, most of them have both ads and subscription services," she said.

Wojcicki also revealed that 50 per cent of YouTube views are now coming from mobile devices, a significant chunk that the website will be sure to want to target.

For now, YouTube is remaining vague on its plans, but it's clear that 2015 could be a year of change for the global video website. Considering that Wojcicki was one of the first employees of Google, famously letting founders Larry and Sergey run their fledgling operations from her garage, it will be fascinating to see what the next few months will bring.