YouTube is currently facing its biggest challenge yet – figuring out how to make advertisers happy.
Following a cascade of leading articles from the Wall Street Journal, advertisers withdrew hundreds of millions of dollars in ads from the platform.
YouTube had no choice but to crack down, but they did so in the sloppiest way imaginable, leaving their independent content creators to pay the price.
In reality, managing the service can’t be easy. YouTube’s analytics suggest that there’s at least one hour of videos published every second. With that volume of data, it’s impossible for YouTube to staff enough people to sort through all of it.
They recently announced they would be bolstering their YouTube review staff to over 10,000, but it’s still going to be too small.
The problem is what’s referred to as the ‘YouTube Algorithm.’ To combat the mass exodus of advertising money, they created an algorithm that looks for certain sensitive content. This algorithm scans for everything from offensive language to hate speech, casting a wide net that targets everyone from small channels to larger channels with millions of subscribers.
Why on earth would you cast such a large net?
Channels are now afraid to upload for fears of having their videos ‘demonetised,’ meaning that they earn no revenue from ads. YouTube forces creators to upload their videos, get demonetised and then go through the appeal system.
A lot of niche creators get 20 to 30 percent of their views per video in the first few hours of uploading and while they’re going through this process, they earn NONE of the money the ads on their videos make. Everyone is left wondering, “How long is it going to take for the algorithm to learn like promised?”
We’re now seeing creators like H3H3 Productions, Idubbbz TV and Internet Comment Ettiquette changing their content. Now that they have to be family friendly, they seem to have to walk on eggshells. They scale their content and personalities back out of fear of not being able to create for a living anymore.
All three of these channels have slowed to a crawl with uploading new videos, sometimes waiting months before daring to upload again.
Even channels that report the news have been affected. Independent channels like Philip DeFranco get demonetised if they cover any stories that talk about war or “controversial material.”
Defranco has been forced into selling merchandise to keep from going under.
YouTube has always pitched itself as the people’s video service. If that’s true, then how long is it going to be before they back the people that make their platform great?