YouTube tightens rules over monetised videos; ditches smaller content creators

YouTube has been in the firing line over the past couple of months for autoplaying disturbing videos for children, capped off by one of its biggest stars showing the body of a suicide victim. The streaming site is now attempting to claw back advertisers that are concerned about their brands appearing beside inappropriate content, implementing tighter rules for video creators that seek to make money for ads.  

The site announced it will now require creators to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of video watch in the past year before they can monetise their content with advertisements.

In a blog post, Neal Mohan, chief product officer and Robert Kyncl, chief business officer, say the changes will “significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors).

“These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetising which can hurt revenue for everyone,” they claim, acknowledging that while these changes target smaller channels with few subscribers, YouTube will also be looking into how “bad actions of a single, large channel” can be curbed.

Major advertisers have been shifting towards YouTube in an attempt to reach a millennial audience, but a series of controversies suggest there may be a fundamental incompatibility between the needs of brands and YouTube’s potentially toxic revenue model. In March 2017, advertisers fled the site after it was found their ads were being placed next to extremist content, and then again in November 2017 when their ads were placed besides predatory videos of children.

Last year the Google-owned site restricted ad revenue to videos that had 10,000 views in their lifetime. In the blog, Mohan and Kyncl say today’s changes come as part of an awareness that a “higher standard” is needed.

While the measures may go some way to assuage advertisers, it is unlikely to be welcomed by smaller content creators looking to make money. The site says it will give creators a 30-day grace period to surpass its new limitations, otherwise their YouTube Partner Programme involvement will be terminated.

Speaker and author Darren Rowse took to twitter to decry YouTube’s decision, noting that the push for subscribers and hours may turn some creators towards “sensational, clickbaity videos”.

YouTube says that, in addition to setting tighter limits on the size of monetised channels, it will “continue to use signals like community strikes, spam, and other abuse flags” to monitor its content.

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