This post probably won’t be as long as usual as I have meeting to attend in a couple of hours, however, I just wanted to get it out there since the topic (and the creators’ responses to it) mirrors my own frustration(s) this summer.
The topic is a simple one (& one that ultimately comes down to money), advertisers and Google seem to be in a war against the content creators that have helped YouTube grow and they have instituted a change in policy that is forcing many YouTubers to either change their content/format, seek alternate funding methods, or leave YouTube for another platform (like Twitch, or other streaming/video services) altogether.
Advertisers want viewers and they want their ads to appear in front of (and during) videos in order to sell their product or service. They also want to control their message and how their message is displayed and on what content that it gets displayed upon. In other words, they don’t want their message to be linked with an offensive site or offensive content. Yet, the sprawling nature of YouTube doesn’t allow them to go in and hand-pick content, so they have (apparently) successfully and recently lobbied YouTube to create fairly restrictive algorithms so that their material appears on only the most family friendly content. Again, this is because they want their messages to BOTH reach the widest audience possible (families) and not be associated with “objectionable” material, but they don’t want to spend an additional money to hire a person/a team of people to navigate YouTube to manually indicate whether their brand is being served or hurt by appearing on a particular video.
Creators are crying foul because of the draconian nature of the algorithms deployment. Even if the content itself isn’t objectionable (such as review), the way it is presented (i.e., with a couple of swear words) is enough for YouTube’s algorithm to deny monetization to creators and their videos. However, even in Avengers: Age of Ultron, there’s a running gag about characters swearing and Captain America calling them out on it, and the gag is that they call him out on calling them out (if that makes any sense). The reason why it’s funny is that in today’s world swearing is “allowed” (which I don’t personally agree with) and to call someone out on it marks you as old fashioned. The Marvel movies are own by Disney Studios, a company known for its “wholesome” image, yet their most successful movies are in the PG-13 category these days. It is unfair for advertisers to require their ads play on “G” rated content in a society where even the wholesome, family friendliest of companies content is in the PG-13 arena and they have a valid point. Most creators already don’t make enough from YouTube to qualify even as a “hobby,” let alone a full time/part-time self-sustaining job and this change really hurts them.
Frustration with the system
If you watched the two videos, you can see the frustration of the creators. They create content for a system and yet have an emotionless set of algorithms determine what can and cannot be monetized. This is the exact same frustration that I felt this summer. They work within the rules of the system, but the rules keep changing and they keep changing in a way that benefits others instead of the very creators who provide YouTube with the lifeblood of content that the site needs in order to survive. In many ways, this is much like AMC all over again as YouTube (and their owners, Google) have taken their eye of the ball and given into the greed that pushes away consumers to other platforms and then decry the fact that users/consumers no longer use their service and/or their profits are down. Google’s motto used to be “don’t be evil.” I think that they (and other businesses) should adopt this as the first line of their mission statements, not the last.