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YouTube Tightens Rules on Ad Monetization—Is This The Right Play?

The video platform just made it harder for aspiring creators to monetize content

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BY Pauline Mendoza - 24 Jan 2018

YouTube Tightens Rules on Ad Monetization—Is This The Right Play?

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It seems YouTube has finally bitten the bullet as far as its advertisers’ demands are concerned.

Following a series of complaints from the latter — among which include (now pulled-out) ads placed alongside racist and violent videos, and a content moderation scandal involving obscenity targeted at children — Google announced last January 16 its new set of rules surrounding YouTube creator ad monetization.

Says Neal Mohan, chief product officer for YouTube, “We’re changing the eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months, and 1,000 subscribers.”

YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl affirms this in an official statement, noting that the decision will help them prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing. The new regulation, Kyncl states, is aimed “to significantly improve [their] ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors).”

Prior to the announcement, only 10,000 public views, without need for annual viewership, was required to be able to monetize on Youtube.

Beginning February 20, 2018, YouTube will also implement the new threshold across existing channels on the platform. Only when these channels reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours will they automatically be re-evaluated for monetization “under strict criteria,” according to Mohan and Kyncl’s official announcement.

Southeast Asian digital players react

“YouTube forgot that it was the creators who made the platform, and not the other way around,” tweets Michelle Phan, the Vietnamese-American founder of beauty products subscription start-up Ipsy, whose career on YouTube began with beauty tutorial videos. Her YouTube channel has over eight million subscribers as of this writing. “I was once a small creator, too. Looks like YT forgot their roots, and value profit over people,” she surmises.

Yuhwen Foong, founder of SushiVid, a Malaysian digital start-up that connects influencers to brands, has a more positive view. “I actually like it. Just [to give you] a bit of context,” explains Foong, “subscriber count means less than the 4,000 viewing hours to me, because half the time people find you through search for a specific content need. I like Gary Vee, but I am not subscribed. I know how to find him and I watch him regardless whether I’m subscribed or not. Definitely way more than 10 hours per week.”

Foong opines the new regulation will help “weed out the good and consistent influencers from the one hit wonders.” Foong is pointing to YouTube creators with 10,000 subscribers who have reached influencer status only because one of their content went viral. “They’ve been able to make money and garner highly priced [ads] from brands for content based on that,” she says, “but it doesn’t actually reflect in their subsequent branded content, and brands get disappointed.”

This isn’t always the case, however, as YouTube’s most recent controversies actually involve its most popular YouTube channel creators like Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg and Logan Paul. Kjellberg is infamous for dishing out anti-semitic humor and racial slurs in videos, while among the most watched videos Paul had posted include footage of a person who committed suicide. Both influencers have millions of subscribers and watch hours as of this writing.

“This is really [going to] hurt up-and-coming content creators trying to get possible careers started,” says Hawaii-based YouTube creator and electronic music producer Kristofferson. In a separate tweet Kristofferson directs to YouTube’s Twitter account, he says, “I’ve made $3 through ads that I can’t withdraw because I haven’t met the $100 threshold. Are you gonna pocket that cash since my channel will no longer be monetized? Because, though a small amount, that’s concerning if you’re also doing that to thousands of other people.”

YouTube’s Twitter account replies, “…if your channel does not meet the current monetization requirements, any revenue you earned prior to being removed from the program will still be paid through your AdSense account, according to the standard payment timeline.”

“Fans come to YouTube to watch, share, and engage with this content. Advertisers, who want to reach those people, fund this creator economy. Each of these groups is essential to YouTube’s creative ecosystem — none can thrive on YouTube without the other — and all three deserve our best efforts,” says Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, in a blog post.

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