YouTube Just Made it a Lot Harder For Vloggers to Make Money, But It Might Be Good Thing


In response to “several issues” that affected its community and advertising partners on YouTube, Google announced “tough but necessary” changes in monetization effective in 2018.

To begin with, new channels must now have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of viewing time within the past 12 months to qualify for ads, also known as the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). For channels currently enrolled in the program, the new requirements will be enforced by Feb. 20, 2018. Previously, channels only needed 10,000 views to be eligible for the program.

“When I first saw the email, I was crushed.” Said Michael Midnight, a YouTuber based in Los Angeles. “I remember back at the time that being accepted into the Partner Program was a hard feat to manage. And so I relished that accomplishment. Reading that I was going to be removed from the Partner Program unless I reached certain metrics next month, I was both sad and angry. Nostalgia and feelings of an older YouTube community overcame me, moreso than reason. YouTube has always had a tenuous relationship with its creators. YouTube walks a tightrope between community and commerce. Looking more clearly at the situation now, it looks like they’re betting hard on the business side. Which is their right. But with these stricter rules makes me wonder if we’ll miss out any potential new creators. There’s already so many hurdles and now here’s another one.”

“It sucks for the people who are starting, but I think it’s very reasonable because those numbers aren’t enough to show proof that their content is valuable to the public,” said Joe Jo of Just Kidding Films in a statement to NextShark. “I think that coming from an old-schooler, back then we have to get invited to the monetization program. There were no submissions and for the first few years I feel that a lot of people in the YouTube community focused on making great content regardless of monetary gain.”

He continued:

“Once YouTube made it really easy for anyone to monetize, it helped but it also hurt by enticing people who had no intention of adding value to the community but just gaining profits by gaming the algorithm. I think monetization is a privilege when you proved that your channel offers what the public wants and also a good measure to separate people who are serious or not.

“I posted on YouTube and didn’t get 1,000 subs till the end of the first year, plus 4,000 hours seems like a good gauge of commitment. With how many users on now, if the creator is serious, those numbers aren’t very hard to hit.”

youtube changes

Paul Muret, vice president of engineering at Google, wrote“Instead of basing acceptance purely on views, we want to take channel size, audience engagement, and creator behavior into consideration to determine eligibility for ads.”

The behavior of channels will be also be kept in check.

“We will closely monitor signals like community strikes, spam, and other abuse flags to ensure they comply with our policies,” Muret continued. “Both new and existing YPP channels will be automatically evaluated under this strict criteria and if we find a channel repeatedly or egregiously violates our community guidelines, we will remove that channel from YPP.”

A channel that receives three strikes will be removed from YouTube.

youtube changes

There will also be changes for Google Preferred, the program that supposedly shows the “most engaging” channels. This time, they will be reviewed manually, with ads only available on videos that meet YouTube’s “ad-friendly” guidelines.

“We expect to complete manual reviews of Google Preferred channels and videos by mid-February in the U.S. and by the end of March in all other markets where Google Preferred is offered,” Muret added.

David Choi, who first found success on the platform in 2006, weighed in on the updates in an email to NextShark. “I can understand the perspective from YouTube as it is a business driven by advertisers. I think creators can forget that sometimes.

“The rules imposed by YouTube don’t seem unfair, and to be frank, YouTubers have a choice to play by their rules or not. For YouTube to increase the barrier of entry, I feel, would be one way to improve the ‘quality’ of content (for advertisers). Same goes for Google Preferred partners who are receiving much higher CPMs. Smaller YouTubers should have to work harder to achieve partner status, but ads should not be running on those channels in my opinion.”

After a scandalous video on Japan’s “Suicide Forest,” Logan Paul’s channels were removed from Google Preferred. However, others are calling for a more punitive measure — his complete removal from YouTube — with tens of thousands placing their signatures.

Finally, Google promises a “three-tier suitability system” that will let advertisers “reflect their view of appropriate placements for their brand, while understanding potential reach trade offs.”

What do you think of these changes?

Featured Image via Flickr / Esther Vargas (CC BY-SA 2.0)