YouTube decided to update its Terms of Service on November 18, and things aren’t looking promising. The video streaming platform now has a ‘Right to Monetize’ (RTM) update that grants them the right to run ads on any video, including the ones that aren’t monetized. It might not seem like a big deal, especially since online advertising has become the norm for mega-corporations. However, there’s a catch.
If you’re based in the U.S., you’ll notice that we’ve updated our Terms of Service today – last time we made a ToS update, many of you had questions (understandably!) about what this means for you, so we’ve broken the update down part by part in our Forum: https://t.co/Gnbx1Mo9vr
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) November 18, 2020
YouTube monetization refers to the practice of companies paying youtubers and channels to place their ads in videos. Every time viewers watch an ad, the relevant party gets paid. According to the new update, however, YouTube will be pocketing all the ad revenue from videos that aren’t monetized. This means smaller channels on the rise won’t benefit from the new policies at all. The unwarranted ads will disrupt their videos, making it much more difficult to retain an audience and grow on the platform.
Prior to the amended Terms of Service, YouTubers could join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) to earn money from video ads. The program was designed for dedicated creators with 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time in a 12-month period . On top of all that, you have to live in a region where the program is available and have an Google AdSense account.
So if creators have to jump over all these hurdles for their content to get monetized, how can YouTube have the audacity to monetize videos on their behalf? It is not just greedy and capitalistic, it also makes the existing program far less meaningful. Essentially, there will be ads on your videos whether you’re part of the program or not. There’s no way to avoid that repetitive Holiday sales ad for the third time in 2 hours.
On that same vein, MaStar Media, a youtuber with a relatively large following (3.5 million subscribers), expressed his concerns about the exploitation of small creators. He believes that youtubers put their blood, sweat, and tears into their content and unfortunately they can’t make a single cent until they qualify for the YPP.
More so, there are creators who actively reject ads based on principle and the Terms of Service update overrides these conscious decisions. For example, full episodes of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj get uploaded to the ‘Netflix is a Joke’ YouTube channel without being monetized. Bear in mind that these videos get millions of views and could generate a decent a mount of revenue if they were monetized. Nevertheless, choosing to eliminate ads allows viewers to freely access the videos and ensures the content isn’t influenced by advertiser ideals.
YouTube seems to have an ‘our platform, our rules’ mentality which gets them into trouble time and time again. Naturally, many of the creators used their own YouTube channels and social media to express their concerns with the Terms of Service update. A creator with a firm stance on the matter is freelance creator and youtuber, Roberto Blake, a creator with over 490K subscribers. He made an incredible video that highlights just how problematic the new terms of service will be. Blake explained the situation by pointing out that, “as a content creator, you will not have control over you viewers’ experience. They could have non-skippable ads playing before your videos and that could frustrate them to the point of not continuing to even bother watching the video.”
More than anything, the amended Terms of Service comes across as a heartless cash-grab because YouTube already made a reported $5 billion exclusively in Q3 of 2020. That means the annual ad revenue for this year is going to be an unbelievable amount of money. In addition, the company has majorly benefited from the internet-driven, stay-at-home lifestyle of 2020. Although ad sales significantly fell in March, they’re still having one of their most profitable years yet.
On that note, I urge YouTube to focus on keeping their creators happy. Although more ad revenue is enticing to the company, they have to remember that the creators keep the platform afloat and should be able to reject advertising if it doesn’t align with their values. Ultimately, if the creators are unhappy, it manifests a hostile partnership that could jeopardize the future of YouTube for good.
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