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YouTube further punishes smaller channels with stricter guidelines

YouTube

Google sent out an email to all YouTube channels this week, and people aren’t happy.

Contained within the email was a new set of stipulations that ALL YouTube channels need to satisfy in order to monetize their content via AdSense.

Get reviewed after reaching 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and 1,000 subscribers

Upon reaching this threshold, your channel is automatically reviewed to make sure it complies with the YouTube Partner Program terms and our Community Guidelines. We’ll email you a decision, usually within a week.

A portion of people are still supportive of YouTube’s policy change in this area. They claim that these standards will help improve the quality of content from larger channels by enforcing a steady trend of consumer interest across the platform.

YouTube plans to increase the amount of human vetting for videos that are featured as part of Google Preferred. Moving forward, advertisers who participate in Google Preferred won’t need to worry about something like the Logan Paul controversy, as their ads will only run alongside videos that have been verified as compliant with guidelines by an actual person. Google Preferred is pitched to brands as the best way to put their ads in front of some of YouTube’s most popular and brand-safe content in key demographics.

The underpinning of this logic relies on the assumption that a steady stream of new channels join the YouTube ecosystem, and therein lies the problem.

The fallacy that lies within YouTube’s justification for these changes is that they’re seemingly forgetting about those who wish to build new channels from the ground up. The current ecosystem on YouTube, combined with these new changes, means that there are only two ways to build a channel now: Have lightning strike and create a string of hit viral videos that spontaneously create stable viewership; or, and this is the more likely scenario, spend an indeterminate amount of time building a channel organically with no avenue for monetizing your work without a third party service.

YouTube does point out that over 90% of those channels affected by this change earned less than $2.50 in the last month. YouTube has also pledged to credit these creators the money they’re owed, but the message is the same.

What all this means is that YouTube is effectively treating big and small channels the same. They’re assuming smaller channels can and will put in the work considering that advertising revenues may NEVER RECOVER. There’s already a mass exodus of channels to other services for monetization and distribution. Why would anyone new try to build a channel on YouTube when there are better alternatives in terms of monetization?

And this same reasoning can be applied to channels that have been declining in viewership for one reason or another. A lot of established channels that only publish content sparingly could fall beneath this threshold. That means even more lost revenue for YouTube/Google.

All of this reinforces the nihilistic idea that it’s now more pointless than ever to try and start a fresh YouTube channel. The party bus left the station a long time ago, and YouTube is looking toward the future. It seems like what we’ll be left with is fewer channels making more money at the expense of new small channels joining the game.

It isn’t really about the money for some of these small channels. Creating something and being paid for it isn’t about the money. It’s the validation of your creativity and the potential of being able to commit more time to it in the future. That’s worth far more to some people than a few hundred dollars in an AdSense account every month. As someone who tried to make small YouTube channels work over the years, and as someone who is currently trying to make a small gaming website work, it’s more a passion project than anything else. And announcements like this are just another nail in the coffin for motivation to keep working at it.

There is likely an issue with Google spending more money than they’re making from these small channels, and it’s possible that this program will help identify and eliminate the toxicity on their platform that’s killing ad revenue. But while toxic idiots like Logan Paul and Pewdiepie remain on the platform, and these new standards wouldn’t have corrected their crappy behavior, Google has bigger problems than losing money on the platforms for smaller channels.

This change will likely see a whole new crop of creators fleeing AdSense for Patreon and Twitch within the gaming space. What do you think?

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