YouTube is an amazing platform. It lets anyone put their message out there for the world to see and hear; all they need is a camera, a computer (or even just a phone), and something to say. Better yet, it lets them make a buck off of it along the way. That’s a double-edged sword, however. YouTube is willing to pay, but lately, it hasn’t been making that easy…
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You might have noticed dozens of YouTubers in your subscription feeds lately, posting videos regarding their bottom line — that is, the income they make off of YouTube. This has been hitting creators from every topic ─ from the big guys to the smaller channels, everyone is suffering.
First and foremost, there are a lot of cuts in ad revenue going around lately. Why? Simply put, there are a lot of YouTubers who are not making advertisers happy, and those advertisers have been pulling their ads off of the service, cutting payments not just for those creators, but for everyone.
The reason most advertisers have been cutting down their spending on YouTube advertising is because Google’s advertising algorithms can’t yet guarantee that an ad won’t show up in front of a video that has content that a advertiser doesn’t want to be associated with: hate speech or violence, for example.
In the past few weeks, creators across the board have seen pay cuts from YouTube due to this and for many, that’s a cut from a check that was pretty low to begin with.
Another factor affecting many channels is YouTube’s various algorithms. These change from time to time, but regardless, they have a massive impact on how viewers find videos from creators.
When it comes to subscriptions, the “guaranteed” way to see videos from your favorite channels, YouTube has been dropping the ball for a while. In some cases over the last couple years, creators have reported videos not getting pushed to subscribers (or being delayed, at least). Regardless, the result is fewer views and less pay from those videos.
Further, YouTube’s search algorithm, a massive driver of views to channels of all sizes, has been changing how it favors channels. One of my personal favorite channels, NerdSync, posted a video just the other day saying that channel might have to shut down due to these changes.
He says that when he recently spoke to YouTube, the company told him that its algorithm has been set to favor videos from channels that post frequently. Of course, posting frequently is nothing new to favor, as active channels have always been given special treatment. Now, that algorithm seems to show favor to channels that are posting between three times a week and once a day.
For creators who truly care about the content they are creating, that’s a really tough standard to keep up with. Videos that involve research, scripting, and lots of time for shooting and editing don’t take a couple hours to create. In some cases, videos like that can take days or weeks.
Some may simply say that those creators need to just speed things up, but doing so results in lower quality and lowering their standards. Many creators, myself included, aim for quality, not quantity, but YouTube tends to reward the opposite. And for many, that’s not OK at all.
YouTubers shouldn’t have to suffer lower ranking or exposure just because they want to spend extra time getting their video right. That’s what makes YouTube so great. Without spending any money, a simple search can uncover spectacular content that you won’t find anywhere else. And if their content is higher quality and well-researched, wouldn’t YouTube want viewers to find it?
Creators are what makes YouTube what it is, and with the course the service is currently steering itself toward, there won’t be as many amazing creators left. There will just be the ones who are too big to fail or the ones who don’t care about their audience. And that’s not even to mention the little guy, who is doing YouTube for fun, hoping it will someday be their full-time job. These standards are even harder for them, and it’s going to be even worse for people who are just now starting on YouTube.
It has to stop, but right now, I don’t see YouTube/Google being the one to do that. What could YouTube do? Well, there are a couple of things.
First, the company could be much more transparent about why it pulls advertising on videos or why it blocks videos in restricted mode. Further, the company could (and should) alter its search algorithms to even out the playing field for the little guy, since they are the future of the platform. Then, of course, it could and needs to update how its ads work and reinstill confidence from advertisers.
For now, though, fans are who will need to help keep these channels alive, if they want to keep watching them.
Help Your Favorite Creators!
How can you help your favorite channels? The first and most obviously way to do this is to just turn off Adblock. The few ads that are making their way through getting blocked only further cuts down on the creator’s paycheck, and that’s not good.
Another option is to use YouTube Red. This service ditches most of the ads you’ll see on YouTube and pays the creator directly, bypassing the advertisers who have been pulling out. At just $10 a month, I’d say it’s worthwhile…
Another option would be to donate directly to that creator if you have the means. Many have turned to Patreon to offer up perks for subscribers willing to toss them a lifeline, and even if you’re not getting something extra back in return, offering a few dollars to the creators you love is something that’s worthwhile if you want them to keep going.
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