When it comes to monetizing content, YouTube is like the evil Galactic Empire in Star Wars. They pacify creators by offering a slight majority of the profits while closing off other monetization opportunities. This is a major issue when most elite content creators make the bulk of their money from those alternate monetization options (sponsorships, product reviews, etc). Not convinced? Let’s take a look at how the YouTube Empire impacts your bottom line.
Problem I - Ad sharing percentages are flexible at YouTube’s discretion
YouTube doesn’t have to share the actual percentage of advertising profit they take. It’s right in their terms of service that it can change without notice, and they are notoriously cagey when it comes to divulging the rate scale.
Most creators signed up thinking they were getting 60% of advertising profits. In reality the actual amount changes based on source country, type of video, and other factors. The amount could be significantly lower on a case by case basis. That’s if the video even qualifies for ad sharing, which leads us to another problem.
Problem II - YouTube doesn’t pay you adshare on every view
Ad blocking programs are on the rise. 26% of desktop users and 15% of mobile connections blocked ads last year, a 30% rise from 2015 numbers. Those who don’t use an ad blocker often skip past the ad. 65% of viewers skip as soon as they’re able, mostly out of habit.
When this happens, YouTube doesn’t credit creators with a view. Depending on which plan an advertiser makes, YouTube may still charge for the exposure while holding creators to a strict 30 second rule (viewers must watch for at least 30 seconds before the channel can monetize the view).
Problem III - Disputes with advertising partners cause unreliable monetization
You’ve probably heard the term “Adpocalypse”, referring to the event earlier this year where many of YouTube’s major advertising partners announced a boycott of the platform due to their ads being featured on hate speech and other unsavory videos. What you might not realize is how badly it impacted content creators in general. Ad revenue across the platform fell to nearly nothing, regardless of channel content.
The advertisers are back, but revenue is still low. It’s much worse for political and news creators, but even entertainment channels feel the strain. H3h3productions, a comedy and entertainment channel, was showing almost no ad share from 700K daily views at one point. Why? The answer lies in YouTube’s post-Adpocalypse “not suitable for all advertisers” tag.
In an attempt to keep advertisers from walking out again, YouTube has been reactionary about demonetizing possibly questionable content by labelling it “not suitable for all advertisers”. Videos are being demonetized or taken down entirely with very little cause or warning. Sometimes this is due to a single viewer report, and sometimes it’s a quirk of the screening algorithm.
Whatever the cause, it can take 48 hours from appeal to get the video back up and remonetized. By that time the most valuable hours for earning money have passed. The largest number of views come right after a video is posted, so a 48 hour disruption of monetization turns a video with 500K views from a star to a dud.
Problem IV - YouTube is cracking down on creators’ ability to feature sponsors
Some might think lower ad sharing isn’t the end of the world since much of their profit comes from sponsors and in-video ad placement. However, YouTube has begun imposing restrictions there as well.
Creators used to be able to feature an overlay from sponsors. YouTube cracked down on that practice because advertisers were going straight to the influencers they want to represent their brands. Now the overlay is restricted by a policy that prevents creators from including “promotions, sponsorships or other advertisements for third party sponsors or advertisers in their videos where YouTube offers a comparable ad format”.
There is a mechanism in place for creators to feature sponsored product placement, though it damages monetization as well by requiring that creators check a box labelling it as paid advertising content. That hurts SEO rankings, but failing to do so can lead to demonetization or video removal.
Problem V - Both YouTube and App Stores can take a chunk of tips and Super Chat sales
YouTube launched Super Chat in January to keep up with user demands for a more interactive viewing experience. The feature lets viewers pay to pin a message in a different color to top of the comment window on live streams and during playbacks. They’re working on adding real world effects and emoji as well.
At first this seemed like a boon to creators, an extra form of monetization for channels struggling with ad sharing. Typical Gamer ran the first Super Chat and made nearly $4K in one video. Creators started to relax- but the YouTube Empire hadn’t changed. Super Chat still benefits them more than creators.
For one thing, Super Chat doesn’t work on non-monetized videos. All the problems with monetization listed above still apply. Plus, YouTube takes a portion of revenue from Super Chat purchases on top of the regular ad share percentage.
Currently Super Chat isn’t supported on iOS. When it is, creators will have to share their tips with Apple as well: the company takes 30% of all in-app purchases, which would include Super Chat.
Problem VI - The data created by your content is owned by YouTube, not you
Finally - and critically - YouTube owns all the data created by your content. Data is one of most valuable assets, yet YouTube shares only a very small fraction. (Note: Instagram is experimenting with providing more creator-generated data, but there are no signs of that trend spreading to YouTube.)
Without a transparent view of your data, you’re blind to your followers’ true wants and needs. You don’t have the tools you need to adjust and refine your content production strategy - but you can bet YouTube is using everything they know about your fans, even though they’re not sharing with you.
DON’T GIVE IN TO THE GREEDY YOUTUBE EMPIRE!
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