YouTube’s Policy Changes Receive Mixed Reaction
Yesterday, YouTube announced big changes to both its Google Preferred and YouTube Partner Program, and today the world is voicing its opinion on those changes. Most of the attention, however, is drawn to the platform’s new monetization policy concerning creators, who now face a stricter threshold if they intend to make money off of their videos.
YouTubers took to the internet to express their frustration with the updates. Posts on Reddit ranged from upset: “YOUTUBE IS SCREWING OVER SMALL CREATORS,” to annoyed: “I’m really annoyed with the bigger YouTubers supporting this new demonetization policy.
Many posting on the website felt as though YouTube was no longer thinking about the smaller creators. A Redditor by the name of ThePower79 expressed his feelings on the subject:
“As a small Youtuber who doesn’t meet those guidelines, it’s hard for me not to see how I’ve been ultimately f@cked over by this platform who doesn’t give a shit about me. Screw Youtube and everything they stand for.”
The post quickly garnered over 1000 upvotes and more than 800 comment, with many agreeing with the YouTuber.
It is important to note, however, that according to Google, 99% of the people affected by the change were making less than $100 per year, which means these changes aren’t stopping anyone from putting food on the table. But it may encourage up-and-coming creators to find new avenues to funnel their content through.
While many on the internet feel that these changes are the end of small creators entering the Youtube game, how do Industry leaders feel about it? (surprise, surprise, many agree with the changes)
Matthew Patrick: President, Theorist Inc.
“It’s easy for people to forget that monetization on YouTube is a privilege, not a right. YouTube still, to this day, is the only platform sharing advertising revenue with its users and while yes, any change touching monetization is always scary for creators, in this case, it’s not as drastic as many might make it out to be. This actually feels like a return to the earlier days of YouTube’s Partner Program. In the earliest days of the YouTube Partner Program, having the ability to monetize was a feature only allowed to manually-reviewed channels or those who had shown enough history on the platform to merit inclusion in a multi-channel network. These new thresholds are a lot like those earlier policies, ensuring a channel is dedicated to the platform and building a viewership before earning their way into the Partner Program.”
Chris Pavlovski, CEO and founder of Rumble
On the one hand, YouTube should protect its advertisers; but on the other, firing the small creator is not the solution. They’re walking away from the creator base that made YouTube what it is today. At Rumble, we believe the creator deserves better and everyone should be given an opportunity to monetize their content.
Petar Mandich: Chief Talent Officer / Talent Manager at ADDITION
As the platform continues to grow and mature, the policies that are put in place to help cultivate and protect the spirit and culture of YouTube also need to evolve. No system is perfect, and I’m sure that Google will have to develop and refine it in real time, but it’s at least a step in the general right direction.
Dane Golden: CEO of HEY.com, a video content marketing company:
YouTube is challenged in that they are trying to walk the line between trying not to be a case-by-case arbiter of what is hateful or offensive across billions of users and videos worldwide without squelching free speech. And it’s not easy. The small-channel changes will very likely significantly lessen the chance that a creator/uploader with just a handful of offensive videos could incidentally have a pre-roll ad from an unsuspecting advertiser.
But the content that’s had the most negative attention, with Logan Paul and previously with PewDiePie, were part of Google Preferred. Now that YouTube is going to manually approve each Preferred video for its advertiser-friendliness, I think you’ll see greater value for Preferred, but also some channels will fall out of that program due to tighter controls. Also there will be a smaller ad inventory (unless Preferred is expanded), because most of a given video’s views usually come in the first few hours, and if there is a delay of 24 hours, or even 4 hours, to approve ad viability, that will give the advertiser fewer possible views and less revenue for the channel and YouTube itself.
This is positive move for YouTube to earn-back the trust of advertisers. The challenge still lies in a common standard for the definition of “advertising friendly.” In example, the guidelines state, “occasional use of profanity won’t necessarily result in your video being unsuitable for advertising, but context matters.” While this might be ok for some brands, there are a plenty of large advertisers out there that will not be ok with this and still have issues.
Rob Jones: Head of Strategy at The Social Standard
I see today’s proposed changes as definite steps in the right direction. Raising the threshold for the Partner Program is a great start to solving YouTube’s current crisis because it makes now asks more of everyone (aspiring influencers and bad actors alike) in hopes to screen out some of the problematic elements that have plagued the platform. This also makes the total number of channels smaller and more manageable from a human optics perspective. More importantly, ensuring that Google Preferred is a thoroughly cultivated offering of content to advertisers is something that most expected they were getting from the outset of the GP program, so this is more of a make good at this point than a gesture about improving quality. Given that this inventory will ultimately shrink due to being more selective and the additional labor that it takes to vet it, that has to impact price. So, we’ll have to see just how “premium” the premium offering becomes in 2018.
I think the maturation process of YouTube advertising is an interesting one. What made it so disruptive to begin with was precisely because it wasn’t safe content. That was TV and that was what my generation grew up on. Millennials found an ownership in this content format that didn’t play by TV rules and that was completely fine with everyone because digital buys were minuscule next to the TV buys. But as digital content moved into a place that was no longer about being disruptive so much as becoming the new mainstream, the dollars came pouring in. But the content itself never truly pivoted to being TV safe and we’re just now trying to square those two opposing forces. It’s important to understand that “brand safe” is a continuum and we now need to figure out where we land when it comes to the bulk of inventory being bought/sold. Things like ISIS recruitment videos and suicide vlogs are categorically things we can all agree doesn’t warrant our attention or money, but there’s so much in between. The gaming sector is one of those spaces where there’s still a lot of sorting to be done. We know gaming audiences like a certain aesthetic that would be considered not brand safe by most brand manager standards so there continues to be a moving line between what brands want to say and what gamers want to hear.
Dan Levvitt: CEO at Long Haul Management
While I appreciate YouTube taking further steps to make the platform safer for advertisers, I wish they were more punitive in the punishment they dole out to creators who cause damage to the entire ecosystem. So far YouTube’s punishments have been very specific to the creators who have caused harm and not at all applicable to creators without a YouTube Red series or Google Preferred status. The ability to both upload videos and monetize them is a privilege and should be treated by both creators and YouTube as such. In my opinion, as long as the punishment YouTube extends doesn’t substantially punish creators who damage the platform, controversies like we’ve seen will continue to occur. YouTube might think the punishments are adequate, but on the business side, I see them having little negative impact so long as creators can upload and monetize their videos. I think YouTube should create a panel of stakeholders, creators, agencies, brand..etc to help serve as a committee that can advise what adequate penalties should be.
Scott Fisher: founder of Select Management Group
The fact more Creators are earning a living on YouTube than ever is a big win. Now it’s imperative YouTube help create and strengthen quality, collaborative relationships between brands and Creators. If brands wholly understand the Creators and their content offering they’ll be able to better integrate into it and be more confident in running ads against Preferred Partner channels.