Youtube tightens rules for brand sponsored videos

Youtube are tightening up the rules for brand sponsored videos, impacting their 15 million "creator partners", as they were called when they helped the networks incredibly rapid growth, 50% year over year increase in viewership for the last three years. Now that youtube are fat and healthy and pretty much the destination with the help of these content creators, they are making sure they get their cut of the sponsored content. YouTube has quietly amended its ad policies adding that if you have paid endorsements or product placement. In short it prohibits video overlays of sponsor logos and product branding unless the sponsor buys advertising through Google. In plain english Youtube wants content creators to rely on Google’s sales team for deals.

And why not? Youtube set up the channel, the stage if you will, and want in on the deals being made outside of their Google advertising network. Surely, content creators were aware of the fact that they were creating their channel in someone elses playground? Wasn't that obvious when the Youtube logo was always there? Youtube says that the new six-second “product card” ad unit that creators can show before their video prompted the rule clarification. The overlay ads like the ones content creators can use on sponsored content are no longer allowed unless the advertiser buys a media package on the channel through Google..

“We allow text-only title cards where there is paid product placement for the purpose of paid product disclosure only. Graphical title cards, including the use of sponsor logos and product branding, are prohibited unless there is a full Google media buyout on the partner content by the sponsor.”

This is a clarification of a policy that has been in place since last year, and is intended to prevent advertiser conflicts. Makes sense when a creator can have an ad sponsored by X but Y has an overlay, and these are competing brands. Translated this means that the Google ad market has problems selling youtube ads because of the risk of brands crashing on content sponsored by other brands. This may seem silly to content creators who have never been excluded from a Levis pitch because their agency has Dockers, and who never signed an NDA promising to never work on X brand for two years after quitting an agency. Basically what the google rules are saying is that you can't cheat the pre-roll or post-roll by doing giant logo placements. YouTube, however, allows content creators to earn revenues from sponsorship like simple product placements, text banner ads embedded in the content and content solely created around a brand.

For such content, creators can make 100% revenues and we won’t charge anything. But for 30-second to one minute ad or full-fledged graphic banner ads embedded in their content they will have to share a percentage of revenue with YouTube.

Youtube need to sort this out, advertisers have been complaining for ages about the issues of placing ads on youtube. If Youtube serves a Honda ad before the content starts playing, and the content creators are plugging ‘brought to you by Toyota’, it becomes a bad viewer experience to see two ads back to back like that and neither of the car brands are happy.

All clear? You're paying rent to the people who built the infrastructure you are using, that's all. That's why they built it, silly. Youtube are not actively looking for offenders, but if you are serious about your channels you should make sure to clean your house. If you think this is a bad deal you can always spread your creative juices and help build the video content at Facebook, Vine, Vessel, Snapchat, Periscope, Twitch and Vimeo or be a digital serf elsewhere. Or you know, maybe start a channel on a platform that you actually control, such as a cheap cloud server hosting solution. We began hosting videos in 1999, it's not impossible to do yourself.

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