News 18th November 2019

YouTube’s recent changes in allowing advertisers back onto “edgier” creator videos has come as a welcome change by many

Back in February 2017, one of the most well known YouTube starts PewDiePie released an anti-Semetic video that was picked up by all media outlets. As a result, the world quite rightly shone a light on the ugly truth that YouTube was struggling to control the type of content that brands advertised alongside. The backlash saw thousands of agencies and brands pulling their ad spend away from YouTube and resulted in YouTube losing nearly 1BN dollars.

Fast forward to early 2018, which saw YouTube introduce new rules in order to appease advertisers and also encourage them back to the platform. 

The new rules consisted of:

  1. YPP (YouTube Partner Program): Changing the criteria of when your YouTube channel can monetise. The new criteria saw channels needing to bring 1000 subscribers and 10,000 hours of watch time before they can apply for monetisation. This was not the case before!
  2. Limited or no ads: YouTube created an AI algorithm that sorts through the channel metadata as well as the video content and decides if your video is suitable for advertising.

Unfortunately, like any other AI algorithm, as soon as it got released it deemed many videos wrongfully as not “advertiser friendly” which caused an uproar throughout the YouTube community with many creators and publishers creating videos purposefully, in protest against the new rules.

The sectors that were hit the most, included news which contained a lot of harsh visual content, the LGBTQ+ community due to the keywords they use on their metadata and creators that usually create prank videos and use harsh language.

In addition to the algorithm, YouTube stepped up their game with a manual review, to deem if they were advertiser friendly, with YouTube admitting they’d had to hire 10,000 people to go through the manual reviews queue. 

Nevertheless, these changes still saw many creators lose their treasured  revenue that they were making on the platform, and even resorted in them having to ask their followers for financial contributions. The worst cases resulted in them changing career to substitute this financial gap caused by the YouTube changes.  

In a last bid attempt, some of them had also tried to change the types of content to satisfy the new rules but in doing so, cost their audiences’ engagement. 

As for publishers such as Brave Bison, the cost was also real, with clients no longer requiring support, for lack of believe in the benefit of continuing their journey on YouTube, for others, because they simply couldn’t afford to pay the management and consultancy fee. 

Fast forward again to late 2019 and YouTube is now set to test advertising against the “edgier” content once again.  We believe it’s a brilliant step forward, enabling the ecosystem of creatives, and encouraging some of the more unique creators back onto the platform.  Not only is the approach to content changing, but also the way in which the inventory is sold. Before, individual creators were selling direct to advertisers, who struggled to be captivated by the smaller quantities, but now, YouTube is also taking this into hand and selling the grouped inventory, attracting advertisers back to target these edgier creators.

According to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki the test has been a success, and has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad revenue already. That said, it is still hard to measure how happy advertisers are with the results; and if YouTube are able to keep them on the platform for longer and spending more. 

If this test is the success they hope for, then YouTube would have to think hard about their community guidelines or be careful on how it communicates the change, especially as these edgier videos can often attract channel strikes.

For now, we’ll wait and see what happens!

......Thoughts and views of Christos Constantinou, Director of Operations.