As you may have heard, recently YouTube has been cracking down on their content creators’ main source of income, ads. This was a result of the Wall Street Journal bringing a series of controversial videos uploaded by PewDiePie, the site’s largest channel, to the attention of major brands, including Nike and Coke, who are a major source of YouTube advertisements. Upon seeing their ads alongside these videos, as well as other ‘offensive’ content, many corporations removed their ads from certain videos and in some cases pulled all advertising off the website.
This has led to the site changing their monetization policy to allow advertisers to opt-out of having their brands displayed alongside videos which may be deemed unacceptable, and thus began the ‘adpocalypse’. However, due to the vague and wide reaching nature of the categories which advertisers could opt out from (including ‘sensitive social issues’), some have pointed out that political content, especially from a conservative perspective, is often the hardest hit. This is not the first time large technology companies have been accused of enforcing a political bias on their sites, as recently Twitter removed the verification badges from a number of right-wing accounts.
Many of YouTube’s largest channels, including PewDiePie, have decided to expand to other video sharing platforms such as Twitch, in order to make up for the hefty losses, with some reports claiming certain channel’s revenue streams have dropped by up to 70% . This has caused some content creators to search for alternate income sources, such as Patreon, a service where fans can donate directly to creators.
YouTube has also been trying to promote its YouTube Red service, a paid subscription offering premium content to users for $9.99 a month. Some have argued that they are taking advantage of the ‘adpocalypse’ in order to push more content creators towards putting their content behind this paywall. Many YouTubers may be forced to do this in order to secure a steadier stream of income, as revenues were already being hit due to the use of ad blocking.
This crisis has certainly benefitted YouTube’s competitors, and made many of their content creators no longer reliant on the site as their sole source of income. Yet despite backlash from millions of its users, the video-sharing site maintains its dominance, raising the question: will there ever be a David to YouTube’s Goliath?