Learnings from YouTube Demonetization eff 20 Feb 18

In January 2018, YouTube announced the new policy that would take place effective 20 February 2018 whereby the following YouTube channels that do not meet the guidelines below would be removed from monetizing their ads with Google Adsense (the ads that play before or sometimes in between the video):

  • 1000 subscribers, AND
  • 4000 hours of view time in the last 12 months

This means the new policy effectively result in smaller and medium channels to lose monetization on their videos.

There are a few reasons that brought into changes of the policy which mainly was due to boycott by some major advertising brands because:
Note: Many other sites and YouTube videos have spoken about this in great detail. Here I would just summarise the points.

1. Logan Paul scandal
Popular YouTuber Logan Paul filmed a video with a dead body and made a joke out of it causing backlash from the community as well as advertisers.

2. Advertisers do not want to associate with bad videos
Videos that contained profanity, overly negative messages and promoting extremism and terrorism. Or videos that was supposedly meant for kids but had ‘adult’ content or implicit messages. Not to mention videos that are simply of bad quality.

3. Unregulated comments
Some decent videos for example videos of children attract comments from pedophiles and other twisted comments which got flagged or detected by YouTube causing the entire video to get demonetized.

This would supercede an earlier policy in April 2017 whereby videos that earned a lifetime views of 10000 (accumulative for all videos) would be eligible for monetization – which would be discontinued effective 20 February 2018.

My YouTube channel

Achieving 10000 lifetime views is not really an issue if you have started your own channel years ago. I started my own YouTube channel in 2007, in the beginning just to be able to comment on other people’s videos and eventually to upload my own videos.

I am going to be honest….my videos were impromptu with bad visual and audio quality. However, collectively, my collection of about 20 low quality videos had gotten me a lifetime views of 14k across the channel.

No advertiser would want to associate with videos of such quality- it may be okay in 2012 but today where many YouTubers are seriously making quality videos with good audio, lighting and quality content.

Today, I am on YouTube to watch videos and learn from the experience of many YouTubers.

New policy affecting the income of many YouTube content creators

Today, the world’s richest billionaires and trillionaires own majority of the wealth. The rich get richer whereby they are able to automate all their income earnings… they have good talents and automation to help them to literally increase their wealth.

However, the situation is a little different from the top earning YouTubers. Recently I got real active in YouTube and watched videos ranging from small and medium to top and popular content creators.

It is not easy to remain as popular YouTube content creators. They really need to work real hard to be able to remain in the position. For example, Ryan Higa who have more than 20 million subscribers put in a lot of effort in producing his videos. Not only that his content are funny and entertaining, they are sometimes thought provoking. And he literally have a crew who appeared in the videos and they also helped in the video production and set up. He has to work very hard. Note: I discovered his channel because I was searching for “How to know if you have ADHD” and found his video, then I started watching his other videos). Yes, kudos to another ADHD who turned out to be one of the top YouTubers.

And another channel that I love is Lavendaire by Aileen, whom I first discovered because I was searching on videos about organization and came across the KonMari videos.

I had a good overview of the KonMari method mainly through watching her videos because she summarizes the points very clearly. She has also provided other useful videos on how she did setup for her YouTube videos and how she plan and schedule her tasks. You can sense her calm, sincerity, warmth and how genuine she is in each of her videos.

The policy changes would not be impacting YouTube content creators like the above.

Impact on new and smaller content creators

There are a lot of upcoming YouTube content creators with awesome content that would get impacted by the new YouTube policy. Reasons why they are not being able to meet is not because they are not good enough but due to reasons such as:

1. They could not meet the subscriber count because they are not producing enough videos to get enough views even though their video is of high quality. Sometimes, they cover a more broad topic and are not niche specific- which usually may not attract high number of subscribers.

2. They had been inactive- due to having a full time job, or changes in life circumstances, they have been inactive in the past few months or a year, thus resulting that they are not able to meet the 4000 hours.

3. The video run time is not long. Some YouTubers would produce content of 4 or 5 minutes and it will take enormous amount of views to meet the requirement. Actually, it hard for a YouTuber- if the video is too long, you risk people dropping out as well.

4. Their videos are not showing in the YouTube searches or recommendation

No matter how good the videos are, they would not get the number of subscribers or views if their videos are simply not showing up in the recommended or related video listing. In recent months, I am basically seeing video recommendation from those which I have watched before or have subscribed. I am sure there are tonnes of undiscovered high quality videos out there but somehow I am not able to find them through searches.

What YouTube content creators got to say about their channels getting demonetized

While naturally many would rant and get really upset with YouTube for the new policy, I have came across some unexpected, but insightful from the small/medium content creators which shared that:

1. Originally many people started making and posting videos on YouTube not because of the monetization as those days the videos were not monetized. In fact, many popular channels today started their YouTube channels in the days where Adsense monetization were not available.

2. 90% of impacted channels earn very little in YouTube to begin with…as 90% were earning less than USD2.50 in the past month. One content creator understood from the advertiser point of view and said she would work to grow her channel till she is eligible for monetization (actually she had hit the requirement of 10000 lifetime views a few months ago but shared her earnings were very little).

3. This will filter out content creators who are making low quality content, clickbaits and spam.

Many YouTubers mentioned there are tonnes of negativity, nonsense and upright false information spreading in YouTube. By eliminating the monetization method, most people who are in it for the money would leave. As a viewer, I could mostly tell if I am clicking on some nonsense clip and would click away after a short while. So such videos would not be able to meet their subscribers and watch time.

Explore alternative ways- either outside YouTube or other alternative ways.

In the blogging world, most blog content creators have long moved away from using Adsense as the primary source of earning years ago. They have move towards affiliates and creating their own products/writing ebooks/training programs which made them huge amount of income.

Perhaps it is now a good time to move towards other form of content sharing or to use YouTube as platform to promote your products, website and blog. I am often surprised when I visit the website of some content creators that their website is not content packed as their YouTube channels.

I know many people find it is easier to produce videos compared to writing blog posts….and since you already have the content available, you can have your videos transcribed into blog posts, and if you are writing tutorials you can do screenshots to illustrate your points. In between if you wish, you may include some affiliate links of products that you have tried or related to the products that you are using in the video.

There are risks involved in every business and monetization method

Years ago, many bloggers and spammers tried to trick Google into sending traffic to their sites. They produced mainly thin and low quality content, using keyword stuffing and cloaking. Then the pages contained tonnes of advertisements and affiliate links. This is done with the hope that the visitors, arriving from organic search would get so confused that they would leave by clicking on an ad. Sometimes the site is outright containing nothing but just meaningless phrases churned out by spam software.

Some sites copied content of original content creators and use it as their own. I myself also had my content copied and posted in other spam sites.

For a few years, these people made a good living. Till users started to complain to feedback on the quality of search results and content creators complained of having their content duplicated.

Then Google came down hard on them. Through releases using name, many from cute animals such as Google Panda, Hummingbird, Penguin- Google is outsmarting these spammers and content creators. Content creators with websites that had nothing but spam and link farms had their Adsense accounts banned, and often such bans are permanent.

Of course in the process, innocent people also got their Adsense accounts banned and/or their site de-indexed even though they were not spammers or doing black hat practices. It is sad… imagine if your friend/relative who innocently keep clicking on your ads to support you, would result you getting your livelihood taken away from you just like that. Like what is happening to YouTube now, bloggers took out to the blogospheres, forums and even YouTube to rant their frustration and anger of being wronged.

With time, the dust settled. Affected bloggers found other ways to make a living, some making it big through affiliate marketing, or some just went back to getting a full time job. I remembered reading from a few people who said having their Adsense banned was the best thing that happened to them because it forces them to find a better way to earn a living online.

Eventually, the Google Adsense has relaxed a little- rather than banning the entire Adsense account, they just choose not to have the ads displayed on pages which they deemed inappropriate. I believe that time was a learning curve for us bloggers as well as Google.

Through this implementation, the web search has gotten to be a better place. Through countless of tweaks and changes, users are getting quality and much more relevant search results. Today, it is not worth to create spammy or thin content sites as Google has gotten so good at detecting that they are literally not sending any traffic their way.

And bloggers, in order to be able to rise above the searches are pushed towards producing better and more relevant quality content.

What YouTube is implementing now is the same as what many bloggers have gone through. In the end, like what a few small channel content creators have shared, there would be a change whereby there would be less content theft, ‘bad actors’ and overall a better experience for the users and advertisers.

When the advertisers are happy, they would return and place more advertisements in YouTube towards content that they want to associate with. Content creators who genuinely have the passion of making videos, on the other hand would continuously work to improve their content- which eventually would surely get found. With quality, I have no doubt that they would meet the monetization requirements…. but it will take time.

Advertising in YouTube is so much cheaper compared to in the papers/TV/radio and the advertisers are actually reaching out to targeted audience as ads can be geo and keyword targeted. Eventually more advertisers would move towards YouTube advertising, and the content creators (who stayed behind and produce quality content) would get the ads displayed while the users get what they want.

Content creators who are doing it purely for money would probably take leave when the new policy from YouTube kicks in. The same that many creators of spammy websites or thin-content blog gave up when Google deindexed their sites and banned their Adsense account.

If you have passion to produce videos to share your knowledge with others- don’t give up, okie. You may not be a big content creator today but please don’t give up. Meanwhile, explore other alternatives like building out your own brand or branching to blogging while waiting to make the numbers to quality for monetization.


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