I woke up this morning to an email from YouTube stating they are changing the partner criteria a YouTube Creator must meet in order to generate revenue from their videos and yes, it’s going to impact a lot of people.
YouTube Changes Revenue Criteria
Before we get into the reasons and opinions, here are the facts:
- Channels must have 1,000 subscribers to earn add revenue
- Channels must also have over 4,000 hours of watched content over the past 12 months to earn ad revenue
- New channels are affected immediately
- Current channels that do not meet these criteria will continue to earn revenue until the cut-off date of February 20th, 2018
- Current channels that do not meet these criteria will be paid current outstanding revenue balances accrued
- Channels that do not meet these criteria currently, but then do in the future will be automatically reassessed when the criteria are met
- Channels that do and don’t meet the criteria will still have access to the Creator Academy, Help Center, and Creator Site to help grow their channel
Why Did They Do This?
YouTube attempted a similar update back in April which required a channel to have over 10,000-lifetime views in order to collect ad revenue. As of today, they have decided to implement stronger criteria to fight what they call “bad actors.”
This move was done to satisfy the needs of advertisers who are unhappy with spending ad revenue on videos and content that may be offensive and doesn’t align with their brand. If an advertiser is paying to display an ad, the advertiser can and should have the right to influence where the advertisement is displayed and consumed by its target audience.
What Are Bad Actors?
YouTube is defining bad actors as content creators who create content that violate YouTube’s content terms of service which specifically call out sexual, violent, and otherwise offensive videos as videos that cannot be uploaded to YouTube. YouTube specifically points out “violent extremism” as the largest category of videos removed from YouTube accounting for 98% of the content that is removed from YouTube servers. Since June they claim to have removed over 150,000 videos related to violent extremism. YouTube has implemented machine learning to remove these videos with 70% accuracy within 8 hours of uploading according to YouTube
On a side note, that means an estimated 153,000 videos were removed since June meaning a total of 306,000 videos are removed annually due to policy violations.
What Does This Mean For You?
B2B & B2C Business Channels:
YouTube is most likely not a source of revenue for your business. To be honest, if you’re using YouTube to introduce other businesses and consumers to your products, services, and training materials, then you don’t want to be monetizing your videos. Every second counts, and if you’re driving conversion to purchase a service, the last thing you want to do is waste time on your target audience showing them an ad for another business, or even worse, a competitor!
YouTube Hobbyist Partner:
If you’re using YouTube to engage your audience by creating interesting content then you may be out a few hundred dollars a month until you get your channel up and running. A lot of people like me start their channel to learn about online content distribution and building audiences. For example, my channel Mandate Mondays thankfully meets the criteria, however, it’s a fun project channel for me to share my interests with friends and my audience and revenue is not a major concern for that brand at this time.
YouTube Career Creators:
This is where most of the impact will take place. If you’re an established creator and have been running for a few years, you won’t even notice a change. You’re already most likely above the threshold. If you’re deciding to become one, however, your barrier to entry just got a bit higher. You now will need to spend more time creating content and building that audience before you can start seeing and learning how the ad revenue system works. You will need to be more strategic on the content you do create, and this policy change will hinder a lot of you from starting, just because you can see how a quick simple change from YouTube can completely dismantle your revenue.
YouTube Video Band Wagon Jumpers:
The sudden explosion of a viral video will no longer benefit newcomers to the platform. New accounts are created daily to upload stolen content from other providers in an attempt to earn quick views with a shocking video that accrues overnight success which has been proven to be very lucrative. How many of you have seen viral videos over and over on different platforms with three or four watermarks without any citing to the source of the content owner? To be honest, I’d be happy to see this get curbed.
YouTube Family and Friends Users:
For those of you who just upload videos to share with your friends and family, your use will remain the same. You’re already most likely not a YouTube Partner or earning revenue from your videos unless you’re trying to get ad revenue from your grandmother constantly rewatching you play with your cat. If that’s the case, sorry, you won’t be able to earn ad revenue from your grandma.
People are very upset with the changes, as would anyone that is forced to change something that will affect their income. The changes they are implementing will be annoying for those who are used to seeing a little bit of revenue from their channels, however, the changes are a necessity when you look at YouTube as a business. YouTube is selling ad space to advertisers and advertisers have a right to influence where those ads are displayed! The last thing any business wants is their ad showing before a violent extremist video and I can’t fault them for that. Of the channels being affected, YouTube clams 99% of those channels were making less than $100 per year with 90% of them earning less than $2.50 in the last month. Although it will be a nice revenue bump for YouTube (Google/Alphabet), I do believe they are making the right decision to help keep advertisers in the game, while fighting offensive video uploads.
For those of you, who see this larger barrier to entry who aspire to become YouTube stars, DON’T GIVE UP! A year is nothing, and you’re not going to earn much anyway in your first year creating content. Just buckle down, start building your audience, and work to provide valuable content for them. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Keep the day job and hone those skills in until you are ready. A year is nothing to build a channel and don’t expect to become an overnight hit. You can do it, it just takes time and dedication.
You can read the full statement from Neal Mohan and Robert Kyncl of YouTube here.