Also in November 2017, it was revealed in the media that many videos featuring children – often uploaded by the minors themselves, and showing innocent content – were attracting comments from pedophiles[376][377] and circulating on the dark web, with predators finding the videos by typing in certain keywords in Russian.[377] As a result of the controversy, which added to the concern about "Elsagate", several major advertisers whose ads had been running against such videos froze spending on YouTube.[378][369]
But sponsorships are where the big bucks are made, and where intermediaries like MediaKix and other agencies come in. This is the major leagues: Most brands aren’t interested in YouTube channels with fewer than 200,000 to 300,000 subscribers or average views of less than 10,000 to 20,000 per video, says Asano. The bar is also high because videos cost more to make, and require tricky negotiations —the sponsor will want to know where their product will be featured, for how long, and so forth. “When we’re connecting top brands with top influencers on YouTube, you’re talking a minimum budget of $50,000 to $100,000, and it just goes up from there,” Asano explains. “Some of the biggest YouTube influencers get paid $100,000 to 200,000 for a single video. And then those videos get millions of views. That’s why there’s a lot of money in the space.”
In late November 2018, YouTube announced that it would introduce a "Story" feature, similar to ones used by Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, which would allow its content creators to engage fans without posting a full video.[119] The stories, called "Reels," would be up to 30 seconds in length and would allow users to add "filters, music, text and more, including new "YouTube-y" stickers." Unlike those of other platforms, YouTube's stories could be made multiple times and would not expire. Instead of being placed at the top of the user interface as is commonly done, the "Reels" option would be featured as a separate tab on the creator's channel.[120] As of its announcement, only certain content creators would have access to the "Reels" option, which would be utilized as a beta-version for further feedback and testing. If users engage more with the "Reels" option, it may end up as a more permanent feature and "trigger their appearance on the viewer's YouTube home page as recommendations." As of November 28, 2018, Youtube did not specify when "Reels" would arrive in Beta or when it would be publicly released.[119]

For other YouTube creators, ad dollars only go so far, and a significant portion of revenue comes from sponsorships and “affiliate marketing” (when brands offer a commission on any sales or traffic that the creator’s content drives). Affiliates function pretty seamlessly through YouTube; anyone can include links to featured products in their video’s caption, and when audience members click through and buy them, that YouTube channel gets a small kickback. Many YouTubers prefer Amazon’s affiliate program, “Amazon associates,” although there are plenty more to choose from.
In 2013, YouTube introduced an option for channels with at least a thousand subscribers to require a paid subscription in order for viewers to watch videos.[300][301] In April 2017, YouTube set an eligibility requirement of 10,000 lifetime views for a paid subscription.[302] On January 16, 2018, the eligibility requirement for monetization was changed to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers.[302] The move was seen as an attempt to ensure that videos being monetized did not lead to controversy, but was criticized for penalizing smaller YouTube channels.[303]
If your end goal is to actually make money from videos, there’s a far better option than simply relying on your measly allocation of ad revenue. Instead, create a YouTube channel and build an audience. The primary goal is to engage this audience and build a brand name. Then, once you've established a reputation, begin driving traffic to your own landing pages where you can up-sell viewers with premium video content.

Both private individuals[246] and large production companies[247] have used YouTube to grow audiences. Independent content creators have built grassroots followings numbering in the thousands at very little cost or effort, while mass retail and radio promotion proved problematic.[246] Concurrently, old media celebrities moved into the website at the invitation of a YouTube management that witnessed early content creators accruing substantial followings, and perceived audience sizes potentially larger than that attainable by television.[247] While YouTube's revenue-sharing "Partner Program" made it possible to earn a substantial living as a video producer—its top five hundred partners each earning more than $100,000 annually[248] and its ten highest-earning channels grossing from $2.5 million to $12 million[249]—in 2012 CMU business editor characterized YouTube as "a free-to-use ... promotional platform for the music labels".[250] In 2013 Forbes' Katheryn Thayer asserted that digital-era artists' work must not only be of high quality, but must elicit reactions on the YouTube platform and social media.[251] Videos of the 2.5% of artists categorized as "mega", "mainstream" and "mid-sized" received 90.3% of the relevant views on YouTube and Vevo in that year.[252] By early 2013 Billboard had announced that it was factoring YouTube streaming data into calculation of the Billboard Hot 100 and related genre charts.[253]


Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is almost precisely the problem that the rest of the media world finds itself in. Because quality is hard to measure, the numbers that exist are the ones that describe attention, not effect: views, watch time, completion rate, subscribers. YouTube uses those metrics, ostensibly objectively, when it recommends videos. But as Theodore Porter, the great historian of science and technology, put it in his book Trust in Numbers, “Quantification is a way of making decisions without seeming to decide.”
If your end goal is to actually make money from videos, there’s a far better option than simply relying on your measly allocation of ad revenue. Instead, create a YouTube channel and build an audience. The primary goal is to engage this audience and build a brand name. Then, once you've established a reputation, begin driving traffic to your own landing pages where you can up-sell viewers with premium video content.
In March 2010, YouTube began free streaming of certain content, including 60 cricket matches of the Indian Premier League. According to YouTube, this was the first worldwide free online broadcast of a major sporting event.[39] On March 31, 2010, the YouTube website launched a new design, with the aim of simplifying the interface and increasing the time users spend on the site. Google product manager Shiva Rajaraman commented: "We really felt like we needed to step back and remove the clutter."[40] In May 2010, YouTube videos were watched more than two billion times per day.[41][42][43] This increased to three billion in May 2011,[44][45][46] and four billion in January 2012.[23][47] In February 2017, one billion hours of YouTube was watched every day.[48][49][50]
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