Opinions expressed in this piece belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of AMEinfo.
Earlier this month, YouTube introduced a change to its Terms and Conditions that is ‘controversial’ to say the least.
“Ads can now appear on videos from channels not in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), and we will begin gradually placing ads on brand safe videos,” the company said in a blog post.
The post goes on to try and justify this change, addressing things like YouTube’s Home Feed ads and aiding advertisers in placing more relevant ads.
In the end, they try to soften the below by saying: “Because these channels are not in YPP, there is no creator revenue share, but creators can still apply to YPP once they hit the eligibility criteria, which remains the same.”
So essentially, while creators that have yet to become eligible for monetization continue to churn out content, YouTube is free to capitalize of their hard work while paying them nothing. ‘But it’s fine,’ YouTube says, ” you can start earning your hard-earned ad revenue once you become eligible for the YPP.’
But YouTube, what happens to all the money you make off these creators’ content while they’re working hard to attain those 4000 watch hours and 1000 subscribers? To make matters worse, since they are not YouTube Partners yet, these creators can’t decide the type or nature of the ads playing on their videos. Monetized channels, for example, can choose where an ad is placed, and whether it is skippable or not. Nothing puts off a viewer like a 30-second unskippable ad placed at the beginning or middle of a video, often pushing viewers to click away.
Additionally, creators in the Partner program can also decide the nature of ads that show up on their videos. Earlier this year, YouTube gave channels the option to not allow political ads to show on their videos, which feeds into a major debate around political ads and the US elections that has been raging on for quite a while now, but I digress.
By allowing the algorithm to dictate where and what ads are placed on a non-monetized creators’ content, YouTube is truly doing its up-and-coming personalities a disservice, while simultaneously making money off of them. For a company that saw ad revenue grow 32% year-on-year to $5.04 billion during their third quarter, it makes no sense to me why it would alienate its new and veteran creators in this way.
Both monetized and non-monetized content creators, or “YouTubers,” have received this negatively, and with good reason. Current YouTubers in the Partner Program are worried their CPM (cost per mille) will drop now that YouTube will be distributing the same number of ads it currently has across a wider range of videos, which could spell decreasing ad revenue for its creators. CPM refers the payout an advertiser offers per 1000 impressions, or views, on a video on the platform.
Mark Dice, a YouTube creator with over 1.5 million subscribers, commented on a video discussing the news: “This will make all monetized channels have a DRAMATIC drop in revenue, because now the number of videos that will be served ads is going to be much, much larger, AND YouTube keeps ALL the revenue from the ads run on the ‘non-monetized’ channels, so they’ll be more inclined to run ads on the channels NOT in the Partner Program. All around, this new plan for ALL content creators.”
Anticipating the worst?
2020 was a stellar year for tech companies like YouTube, and while it was worried about decreasing revenue from ad placements on its site in light of COVID-19, the company’s latest results show the complete opposite.
Again, this is why this feels so out of the blue for someone who’s an avid YouTube watcher and aficionado. It could be that the company is pre-empting another COVID-like advertiser scare. While the company earned a significant revenue sum last year, tallied at $15.15 billion (disclosed for the first time in 14 years), its parent company Alphabet has yet to disclose its profitability. YouTube could be looking to improve those margins by increasing the number of videos it can place ads on, but until we get proper clarification, it’s anyone’s guess at this point.
While we wait to discover the truth, up-and-coming content creators will be finding the fruit of their efforts in YouTube’s hands.