So, as you may well already know, YouTube got into a bit of a pickle with their advertisers recently, and in the aftermath of this, made some pretty big policy changes regarding Monetization. These changes affected every content creator on the service, but made a rather jarring impact upon very small creators, like myself.
You see, they implemented a policy wherein a content creator will not get ads shown on their videos, even if they otherwise qualify for Monetization, unless their channel has a minimum of 10,000 combined, lifetime views. Now for large and even mid-sized YouTubers, ten thousand views is nothing, they get that in a day, or a week at worst. But for small YouTubers, this is a rather significant number of views. We can debate all day as to whether that matters or not, as this is essentially the equivalent of $20 worth of monetized views, but in the end it really doesn’t matter.
You see, regardless of the difficulty of reaching 10,000 views on a channel, I’m here to tell you that this policy is a lie.
I have multiple YouTube channels, which I have used for various purposes over the years. One was primarily for posting raid videos for “World of Warcraft”, another for machinima projects, a couple of others hosted different video podcasts I used to do, and of course I now have “Meander about Middle-Earth” and “RetroStuff”, my upstart gaming channels.
Anyway, neither of my two newest channels come even close to the 10,000 lifetime views level, but the channel for my old MMORPG-related video podcast “Full of Fail” not only meets that standard, it blows it out of the water (over 200,000 lifetime combined views). So I decided to conduct a test, using my FoF channel, and see if this monetization policy is on the level.
Sadly, from my early results, it most certainly is not.
You see, that channel was not inactive, I had been posting on it as recently as a couple of months ago. So I started “Full of Fail” back up last week, and will be posting that show weekly, every Wednesday, for the foreseeable future. But even with that channel more than qualifying for Monetization, and for ads to be run on my videos there, I haven’t seen a single video displayed on my show.
I have been watching my analytics page very closely, and it keeps coming up zeros. Moreover, my monetized videos don’t even show markers where ads would be running, if they were properly monetized (they should each appear with a little yellow strip at the start of their timeline, and yet none of them do). So basically, either YouTube has other policies in place that further restrict very small YouTubers from getting ads on their videos, or their lifetime views requirement is a lot higher than just 10,000. In fact, it is well over 200,000 lifetime views, if FoF isn’t getting even the option to display videos at this point!
Anyway, I will admit that this experiment is still in its infancy, so things might change. Maybe the automatic systems at YouTube take a little longer than one might expect to clear a channel for videos, once they qualify for said ads and enable monetization? I don’t know, but I will tell you this: I think something else is at work.
I watch a variety of different YouTubers, some larger than others, and almost universally, it appears their ad displays on monetized videos are down. But some are seeing less ads being displayed than others, and it appears that larger YouTubers get more ads than smaller YouTubers, and that family-friendly channels get more ads than more controversial channels.
My FoF channel is advertiser-friendly, but also incredibly small, at just over 300 subscribers. So I think that YouTube is portioning out the ads they have to larger, “Disney” channels first, and smaller channels, not to mention more controversial shows, have to fight for the scraps. This leaves nothing at all for those of us at the bottom of the pile.
On the surface, this seems fair (especially if you have a popular, family-friendly channel), because those are the channels advertisers would want to buy ads spots on. But the problem is that the vast majority of YouTube is made up of very small channels like mine, and even if we wouldn’t be making a huge amount of money from displaying ads, we deserve to get ads as much as anyone else.
Either we qualify for ads, or we don’t. Period. And if we qualify, then ads should be displayed on our shows, regardless of our channel’s size.
YouTube instituted the 10,000 lifetime views qualifier to squeeze out small, fly-by-night channels that were created to put up offensive or hateful material, and try to make a buck or two off of it. That’s fine, no one has an issue with this. But when we can show that we aren’t fly-by-night, throwaway accounts, and that we are producing quality content on a regular basis (even if we are still a small channel), don’t we deserve to make something for our trouble?
I am producing roughly 3.5 to 4 hours of content for YouTube every single week. This is more than Philip DeFranco and many other big YouTubers produce, and while my content doesn’t have the same polish as theirs do, I also don’t have people working for me to make it happen. I do everything, in my spare time, because I also have to work full time to pay the bills. So my effort means nothing? Creating now four different shows for YouTube is basically a full-time gig for me, on top of my regular job, and that’s not even considering my weekly audio podcast, or maintaining this website.
YouTube is essentially getting free content from me, and from millions of other small YouTubers like myself. If they aren’t even willing to give us the pocket change we should be earning through advertising on our videos, then they frankly don’t deserve our content.
UPDATE: I’M RICH, Y’ALL! YouTube, in their infinite wisdom and generosity, have seen fit to display a commercial on one of my videos on the “Full of Fail” channel.
I made a whopping $0.05.
Hey, but it’s a start, I guess. If I rolled my eyes any harder, they might get stuck looking at the inside of my skull.