Demonetisation: The Latest YouTube Drama

Originally, I recorded a video on my opinion of the latest drama surrounding the community of smaller YouTube creators. I realised after recording it that I’m not the most tactful person in the world, and what I intended to say hadn’t quite come across the way it was supposed to. I figured that putting my thoughts on (electronic) paper might allow me to articulate what I wanted to say in a more cohesive manner.

If you aren’t someone who uploads on YouTube, you might not have read about the changes to the YouTube monetisation rules for its creators. They’re pretty small changes, really; now, in order to place ads on videos, a creator must have 1,000 subscribers to their channel. They must also have reached 4,000 hours of watch time on that channel.

The changes will be implemented next month; therefore, anyone who was previously able to monetise their content and doesn’t meet the above criteria will no longer be able to do so, until they do meet those points.

And those in the YouTube community pretty much lost their shit when they found out.

I’ve broken down my initial thoughts on the subject into 3 areas:-

Am I disappointed in YouTube’s decision to demonetise their smallest creators?

YES. Of course I am, to a certain extent – in the same way that Netflix subscribers are disappointed when their favourite show is cancelled. It always sucks when something that you previously received or had access to is taken away. And especially when it’s been done in a way that favours the more successful, and goes against those with fewer subscribers. It emphasises the numbers game – this notion that ‘success’ is determined by subscriber count or watch time.

Am I surprised by YouTube’s decision to go down this route?

NOT REALLY. At the end of the day, YouTube is a business – and it all comes down to money. Businesses strive to appease their clients – or else they take their business elsewhere. Creators aren’t the clients; although those who upload are collectively contributing to the success and advertising appeal of the platform, it’s not in a monetary sense.

I don’t have knowledge on how YouTube’s advertising algorithms work, or how ad time is sold, and I don’t have an interest in finding out. But let’s consider the basics of business. If I was involved in advertising for a huge company, and I decided to place ads on YouTube, I’d want my ads featured on channels with a high view count or subscriber count. More views equals more potential conversions. I wouldn’t be interested in someone whose videos maybe reach 100 people. Despite the best efforts of advertising targeting, the conversion ratio will still be tiny.

YouTube have come under a lot of criticism in a lot of areas in recent months – so they’ll be doing all they can to retain the advertisers that they have. It’s unfortunate that the smaller creators lose out, but it’s nothing personal; it’s business.

Do I think some people are blowing the changes way out of proportion?

ABSOLUTELY. This is where I’m bound to disagree with a lot of people – but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

I’ve seen a lot of tweets where people are complaining about losing the money they make from ad revenue. I fall into the large group of people who will be demonetised next month. I’m not particularly fussed about it – I don’t get high views on my videos, and therefore my ad revenue is practically non-existent. I’ve never had a cheque from Google – I’m not losing anything.

I fully appreciate that there are a vast number of creators with more subscribers than me and more views, and that they’ll lose out a bit more. However, let’s look at this realistically – ad revenue is a pittance. It’s pennies. Buttons. How much money are these people honestly losing? And is it really worth throwing your toys out the pram, when you still have a platform to upload your content (for free) and engage with those who watch it?

Ad revenue should be seen as an added bonus. It’s not a serious source of income. If you’re in the extremely fortunate position that the ad revenue from your videos gives you a steady stream of pennies, then I’d imagine that you have surpassed the thresholds imposed by YouTube, and/or already have other sources of income from your content, such as sponsored videos (and good on you if you have!) that will be a bit more substantial.

Monetisation has always been optional. YouTube offered creators the chance to earn a little bit of cash by placing ads on their videos. It’s a perk, not an entitlement. YouTube didn’t have to offer cash for doing so. When I was around 14 years old, I started learning about HTML and coding, and I used to sign up for free little websites on platforms such as Yahoo! Geocities and Angelfire (this was before the days of Piczo). On those websites, ads were automatically shown on your website, unless you upgraded your account to a paid one.

I completely understand that lots are people are pissed off by YouTube’s decision, and not necessarily for monetary reasons. Everyone is entitled their opinion, but if you’re making YouTube videos with the expectation of becoming rich and famous, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. YouTube should be for FUN. Creators should enjoy making content. And it’s blatantly obvious when someone’s only in it for the views/subscribers/cash.

So what’s the way forward from this? Well, since the news broke, I’ve seen so many smaller creators coming together to support each other. And I think that’s a great thing. I’ve seen larger creators such as Luke Cutforth subscribing to smaller creators as a means of boosting their sub count.

But the concept of sub4sub is a controversial one. The vast majority of us have all done it at some point (and I hold myself firmly in that majority, although thankfully it was many moons ago) but where does it leave you? With an inflated subscriber count, yes, but are any of them actually watching and engaging with your content? Do you want to watch their content? Do you even like their content?

I honestly think it’s great that small creators are banding together and supporting each other. I hope that everyone finds new friends and channels that they enjoy watching and interacting on. I just wish that it wasn’t money that was driving it.

What are your thoughts on this latest drama?

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