Over the last few years, there have been many scandals and issues surrounding one of the largest online video content platforms. A small sampling of issues with the platform include:
- Advertisers pulling their ad revenue from the platform;
- Abuses of the copyright claim system to silence criticism and take ad revenue from content creators;
- Users getting unsubscribed from certain channels without notification or consent; and
- Subscribers not being notified when new videos are uploaded.
Many content creators have become frustrated with YouTube’s general sluggishness to respond to user and content creator complaints, even as they continuously rework the system interface and video promotion algorithm.
Frustrations with YouTube aren’t limited to the North American continent, either. Famous YouTubers from all over the globe, such as Felipe Neto, a content creator who founded the first Brazilian YouTube network, have made videos expressing the issues they’ve faced.
Felipe’s Reaction to YouTube’s Issues
Late in 2016, Felipe Neto (Apple | Android) released an impassioned video where he brought up some of his own personal frustrations with the platform and reacted to an interview video from YouTube featuring the product manager of YouTube, Zindzi McCormick.
However, the contents of the interview did little to reassure Felipe. Quite the opposite occurred, actually. Felipe’s reaction to the interview was to call it “the scariest thing that I ever watched in my entire life.”
This reaction was fueled in part by the artificiality he perceived in the interview, how it was presented as a friendly chat between an interviewer and an employee, but was highly staged and scripted. Also, each time that Zindzi was asked about major flaws or issues, such as people getting unsubscribed without notice or notifications not being sent out in a timely fashion, she flatly denied that there were “any underlying glitches.”
Felipe was incensed by the repeated assertions that there were no glitches: “What’s really disturbing about this video—why it’s the scariest s*** that I’ve ever watched. Because, we had hope that YouTube would be looking into these glitches and trying to fix them. But basically, what Zindzi just told us is that YouTube don’t believe that there’s anything wrong.”
That YouTube’s product manager came to this conclusion after reviewing just 100 YouTube accounts was particularly distressing to Felipe. YouTube’s own statistics page highlights the fact that the platform “has over a billion users – almost one-third of all people on the Internet – and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views.” 100 users out of a billion is far too small a number to be a good, scientific sample of the platform’s users. It’s not even 0.000001% of YouTube’s user base.
In short, the interview with YouTube’s product manager revealed that YouTube has no regard for content creators’ needs or complaints. Instead, YouTube is more concerned that the content they want to promote is being brought to the fore.
Disappearing Videos in the Subscription Feed
Another issue raised in the video was the tendency for some videos put out by content creators to fail to show up in their subscribers’ subscription feed tab from time to time. When the interviewer asked Zindzi about that issue in the interview, Felipe stops the video reaffirm that “Yes! That is the most important thing that we hope YouTube is trying to fix.”
Zindzi’s reply to the question was to state that “every video that a creator uploads will show up in the subs feed for all of their subscribers by default. In the last year, actually, we’ve made the subs feed more prominent on mobile.” The added prominence of the subscription feed on mobile is debatable—it’s been moved from a main menu to a small icon on the bottom of the app screen.
Felipe makes a statement in his video when he realizes that the YouTube employee being interviewed is not going to admit any fault on YouTube’s part:
YouTube refuses to admit that something is wrong—do you know why? Do you know why YouTube keeps saying that ‘everything is right’ and that ‘we should just understand the system and work with it?’ Because, they’re right. Nothing is wrong with the system. Nothing is wrong because from the eyes of YouTube—the employees, the engineers, the programmers, the executives—everything’s doing great. We’re the ones that are complaining. YouTubers are complaining about [things] that aren’t working for us… Decisions are made not considering the YouTubers’ interests, the audience interests, just the executives’ interests. –Felipe Neto
At the end of the day, YouTube, as a platform, isn’t there to serve the needs of YouTubers or even the fanbases that watch millions of hours of video each day. Instead, YouTube exists to serve the needs of investors and executives who are looking for a return on their investments.
Why This Matters
So, why should you, as a content creator, care if one or two subscribers get accidentally unsubscribed, or if your videos aren’t always presented to your fans when you upload them? And, why should YouTube’s dismissal of the existence of any issues be of concern?
Frankly, if you’re like many major YouTube stars that have turned the platform into a primary source of income, then the answer is that these issues can affect your bottom line. Losing subscribers means that they’re not as likely to see your videos, or the ads that play during them, meaning less revenue for you. When notifications aren’t posted, videos might get buried in the subscription feed where your fans may never see them—and you don’t collect ad revenue.
What’s the Solution to the Problem of Diminishing Ad Revenue?
The diminishing returns on YouTube ad revenue—whether because of a lack of advertising or because videos aren’t reaching fans through the app’s built-in notification system—requires a proactive response from YouTube content creators. Instead of waiting and hoping for YouTube to fix the problem, content creators need to create new revenue streams and engage their fans however they can.
One way that a content creator on YouTube can achieve this is to use a personally-branded mobile app. With your own mobile app, you can make sure that your fans always get notifications when you upload a new video rather than be at the mercy of YouTube’s lackadaisical notification system. You can also integrate your own premium subscriptions, donation systems, online store, and more to build your revenue so you aren’t as dependent on ad revenue from YouTube.
Best of all, you’ll get to collect and keep whatever fan data you want the app to collect—giving you insights into your fanbase that you can use to earn more subscribers and keep your current subscribers engaged with your personal brand.
If YouTube isn’t going to recognize and fix the problems that content creators have with the platform, then it’s up to those creators to find ways around those problems themselves—with a little help, of course.