Magazine article CRM Magazine

YouTube's Moment of Silence(ing): Can a Stifled Social Community Survive?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

YouTube's Moment of Silence(ing): Can a Stifled Social Community Survive?

Article excerpt

YOUTUBE. Everybody knows about YouTube, right? It's the best possible combination of home videos, narcissism, and free speech, and it's all a mostly no-cost prospect for consumers. Whether you're too cheap to go see a movie, too cheap to get cable TV, or just unable to look away from your computer or mobile device, YouTube has something for you, and there's a breed of young entrepreneurs who are making bank on content production for the service.

At least, they were making bank, until YouTube decided to make some sudden changes to a few policies, and to the way they enforced others, that left some video slingers without advertising income. Go ahead and Google "YouTube demonetization" and you'll find plenty to read about. The issue, in a nutshell: YouTube channels are largely advertising-supported ventures, with the income split between content producers and YouTube itself. As such, YouTube has certain guidelines for what constitutes appropriate content and can strip advertising from (demonetize) any video whose content violates those guidelines or is otherwise deemed "advertiser-unfriendly." This move has to be bad--it has demon right in the name. Highlights of content producers' complaints include (1) the changes were made without warning; (2) existing unenforced guidelines were suddenly being enforced, again without warning; and (3) decisions on content were in the hands of bots, not humans.

Unlike content sites like Netflix or Hulu, the vast bulk of YouTube's content comes from small providers--people with a webcam and an ax to grind, or production companies with shoestring budgets and a passion for filmmaking. YouTube only recently started offering premium paid content, so its success up to now has been built on the efforts of the little guy. Cutting them off from ad dollars is going to hurt YouTube too, isn't it?

It's worth mentioning that not all of every content producer's revenue comes from onsite ads; some have sponsorship deals, or are supported by crowd-funding or subscriptions to offsite services. However, even those often combine with the ad-revenue-sharing program. It's a big deal for every channel.

Wondering where YouTube will get its money is troubling to an outsider like myself because I don't understand it; it's certainly troubling to the content producers who had built their content revenue strategies around the very specific advertising framework of YouTube (which I also don't understand). …

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