Due to the influx of extreme videos that have caused controversy not only for viewers but also for major advertisers, YouTube is changing the way it’s handling ad revenue for its video creators. This major change was brought about after a video by embattled vlogger Logan Paul making fun of a dead body during a trip to Japan’s suicide forest, Aokigahara, was uploaded to the site. The website also drew flak from major advertisers after their ads were shown alongside extremist videos, compelling over 250 advertisers to remove their announcements from the platform after being associated with videos featuring illicit content.
Stricter rules will follow the YouTube Partner Program as viewers will decide which popular videos are eligible for certain ads to be shown in them. Effective by the end of March, users must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 viewing hours for the past year to qualify for the ad revenue.
According to a blog post by Vice President of Display, Video and Analytics Paul Muret, this transition is aimed to “help us reward the creators who make engaging content while preventing bad actors and spammers from gaming the system in order to monetize unsuitable content.” For advertisers, the video-sharing site’s objective is to “ensure that (their) ads run alongside content that reflects their values.”
While YouTube aims to clean up its image after a turbulent year by establishing stricter guidelines and sanctions, however, small-time creators are anxious over YouTube’s new monetization policy citing that “they don’t care about small creators” and are “punishing” them.
After pulling Logan Paul out of their Google Preferred program, a platform that allows advertisers to place their ads on the site’s most popular videos, users aren’t completely satisfied with the verdict. According to Beanie Draws, a YouTuber with 13,000 subscribers, a plausible solution would be to “delete his channel completely if you’re serious.”
YouTube has also announced during March last year that they were imposing a ‘tougher stance on hate speech,’ allowing advertisers more control on choosing which videos their ads will be displayed in, including removing ads from videos with hate speech and racist content. Content creators, both big and small, have been experiencing the first bout of the ‘adpocalypse’ during the first week of April of the same year, citing a plunge on their ad revenues. Content creators like Philip DeFranco, a YouTuber known for his outspoken views and commentaries on current events and politics, are in a vulnerable position following the new guidelines. In a tweet by Ethan Klein, one half of the duo that makes up H3H3 Productions, he said that his videos had been demonetized without warning. Not only are their videos being cut off from ad revenues, but YouTubers have also complained that they were not given the chance to appeal against their videos’ demonetization.
In 2017, Google reportedly earned more than $100 billion, crediting a substantial amount of its advertising revenue to YouTube. After having a considerable number of advertisers opting out of the video service, the new guidelines have proved favorable for the site after generating ‘positive’ conversations with advertisers and ‘improving’ revenues for many creators.
For many YouTubers, however, a solution was far from happening. Policies regarding advertising continue to change without prior knowledge of content creators, causing more backlash among the community. The site proposed a new way for creators to determine whether their videos were being demonetized, and the ability to appeal if the videos were misclassified. A color-coded dollar icon was introduced in the video manager portion. If the dollar sign flashed green, it means ads were being circulated in the video. A yellow dollar sign means the opposite. Instead of pacifying the uproar among the community, the dollar sign gave way to more problems, with more issues surrounding video review. Small-time creators find themselves in the bottom of a waiting list for manual review, with YouTube prioritizing their high-profile creators.
CEO Susan Wojcicki, in a blog posted December of last year, emphasized the importance of manual review as tool for regulating videos which violate the site’s guidelines, with the site planning to hire 10,000 people to monitor videos and applying stricter criteria regarding ads monetization. She also added that creators, fans, and advertisers are ‘essential to YouTube’s creative ecosystem,’ and that ‘all three deserve our best efforts.’
YouTube, a famous social media platform for video sharing, has always been an avenue of expression and has been a creative outlet for different niches, ranging from politics, gaming, beauty, and lifestyle. A new breed of celebrities called influencers have risen among the ranks and have redefined digital marketing and advertising. Aside from putting up a stunning website design, being able to put quality content in social media platforms are just some of the most effective ways of earning income through ads. Social media platforms monitoring and sanctioning creator content is just the beginning of a more responsible internet usage and access for all the parties involved.