Youtube to small creators: No money for you

Imagine if your Executive Creative Director pulled you into his office and said "Hey dude, we're only interested in making creative that gets a ton of views and earned media so from now on I'm only going to start paying you if your ads register more than three million hits on social media sites and Youtube. If your ads don't make a big splash don't worry. You can still work here, it's just we won't pay you." How would you feel about that? Would you be pissed? You'd probably think "man I've given up nights and weekends to give you the best I have, and I should get paid either way." You might feel like you were punished for doing something wrong, even though you personally didn't.
Well, that's what Youtube did to its content creators today. The only difference is, the content creators have always created for free, relying on ads to make any sort of revenue.
Titled "Introducing Expanded YouTube Partner Program Safeguards to Protect Creators" Youtube has changed its perimeters. Here's an excerpt:

Starting today, we will no longer serve ads on YPP videos until the channel reaches 10k lifetime views. This new threshold gives us enough information to determine the validity of a channel. It also allows us to confirm if a channel is following our community guidelines and advertiser policies. By keeping the threshold to 10k views, we also ensure that there will be minimal impact on our aspiring creators. And, of course, any revenue earned on channels with under 10k views up until today will not be impacted.
In a few weeks, we’ll also be adding a review process for new creators who apply to be in the YouTube Partner Program. After a creator hits 10k lifetime views on their channel, we’ll review their activity against our policies. If everything looks good, we’ll bring this channel into YPP and begin serving ads against their content. Together these new thresholds will help ensure revenue only flows to creators who are playing by the rules.
If you’re a new creator who’s just started building your channel, our YouTube Creator Academy has tips on making great original content and growing your audience to help you get to 10,000 views and beyond. Once you’ve applied for YPP, you can check your application status in the Channel tab in Creator Studio, under Monetization. We want creators of all sizes to find opportunity on YouTube, and we believe this new application process will help ensure creator revenue continues to grow and end up in the right hands.

Creators who are playing by the rules? To be clear, this is the company who has placed adverts on jihadi videos and then claimed it's not up to them to police their own site when people complained about it. If they paid out the money on said videos, they're violating U.S. Department of Labor terror fundraising sanctions. And if they didn't pay out the videos it means they kept the revenue generated from jihadi videos. But now all of a sudden, Google's going to police all of its content, approving who gets paid, provided they are "playing by the rules." That's rich.
I posited a theory a while back that Youtube's intention was always to be a competitor to cable TV. In order to do that it first needed a boat load of content and a bunch of eyeballs to view said content.. This came in the form of small-time content creators. The "here's me lip syncing to Blondie," videos or "Here's me making Chicken parm in my dorm", or whatever. These videos weren't necessarily great but they weren't so horrible that people were writing think pieces on them. So Youtube was content to let them run ads, and pay out a tiny bit here and there.

But now in its more ramped up bid to become a cable TV competitor, Youtube is all of a sudden concerned about content and its quality. The egalitarian utopia they once promised is now being run by a stern principal who controls the purse strings and doesn't want to pay you any more and doesn't need you or your subpar videos any more. They have determined that ten thousand views is the threshold and if you can't generate the views than screw you.

And now as they move further and further away from demonetizing regular folks, and destroying that utopia today's announcement on Youtube's blog leaves no doubt that they are spitting in the face of small-time content creators who built the company with free content.

Just two days ago, Dabitch reported on Tim Poole's experiment where he demonstrated "how he can run "any video I want, on any channel that I want" by a few simple clicks in the Youtube adwords dashboard. He selects a coke film to run as an ad on a White Power/Klan meetup clip, with the destination link being a KKK board. He never lets the bought ad go through approval, so it's unclear whether it actually would be approved, but regardless he has demonstrated a massive flaw in the Google adword system on Youtube."

As more and more brands walk away from this association, Google clearly felt something needed to be done.
But like a lot of Silicon Valley's ToS, the wording is at once cheerful, and vague enough to include a recruitment video for ISIS and a gamer who just talks shit for the hell of it. Youtube's community guidelines have always been the stuff of Kafka's nightmares.
We - as in Adland - have been banned from using Adsense because we wrote a critical article about a legitimate billboard. Meanwhile at youtube, violating copyright is something that happens routinely on the daily, with little to no repercussions.

Perhaps if Youtube is now going to be arbiter of what is and isn't acceptable content, and not pay anyone until they've proven they can deliver views, we should hold their feet to the fire as well and make them liable whenever their site breaks a copyright law, or hosts videos from terrorists or white supremacists. It's only fair, right?

But if I were a content creator, I'd take a cue from the advertisers and take my money (and content) elsewhere. If Google wants to be the online version of cable TV and no longer cares about you, the little guy, because it has determined your content is now low quality, then you should spit right back in their face.

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James Trickery's picture

Boy, for the smartest people in the room they don't seem to make very smart 'hurdles' to prevent the ISIS monetization issues.
It feels like Google/Youtube are just nailing shit down hoping something will stick.

fairuse's picture

I think Google/Youtube has figured out OTT wants only high quality short form creators with verifiable views. A Keynote last week for #MIPtv Reza Izad, CEO, Studio 71, USA pointed out that short form and long form digital products do coexist within Studio71. I believe this statement by Studio71 is part of the why,

Studio71’s 1200 channels drive six billion monthly views, offer four times the average channel engagement and represent 19 percent of Google Preferred inventory.

The Keynote speaker has much to say on advertisers and brands interacting with creators so the message is delivered the way it was meant to be. The creators benefit by making more money and worldwide exposure. I started getting the feeling , Record Label Video plus, but different.

I can't think of another reason for the change.

Sport's picture

@Fairuse, I've seen you here for years, yet I never understand your comments. Could you elaborate?

fairuse's picture

The streaming company Studio71 only puts quality content by independent artists and does some work growing class short form. Goggle partners was a toss everything at people and see what happens -- very hands off. By tossing the low number if views under the bus, not pay, google thinks it can get back the % of quality that video producers that walked. I don't think google can. There is a thing called agent that google doesn't understand. scared google & youtube