ChuChu TV, the company responsible for some of the most widely viewed toddler content on YouTube, has a suitably cute origin story. Vinoth Chandar, the CEO, had always played around on YouTube, making Hindu devotionals and little videos of his father, a well-known Indian music producer. But after he and his wife had a baby daughter, whom they nicknamed “Chu Chu,” he realized he had a new audience—of one. He drew a Chu Chu–like character in Flash, the animation program, and then created a short video of the girl dancing to the popular and decidedly unwoke Indian nursery rhyme “Chubby Cheeks.” (“Curly hair, very fair / Eyes are blue, lovely too / Teacher’s pet, is that you?”)
From the looks of things, YouTube's top-line growth hasn't been hurt much by worries among some companies -- for example, Cisco Systems (CSCO) , which just announced it's halting its YouTube ad spend -- about the running of their ads against content they find to be inappropriate. It also doesn't appear to have been hurt badly by YouTube's attempts to appease such advertisers by "demonetizing" videos that its algorithms deem unsuitable for running ads against, or the backlash such actions have sparked among affected content creators.
In June 2007, YouTube began trials of a system for automatic detection of uploaded videos that infringe copyright. Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarded this system as necessary for resolving lawsuits such as the one from Viacom, which alleged that YouTube profited from content that it did not have the right to distribute. The system, which was initially called "Video Identification" and later became known as Content ID, creates an ID File for copyrighted audio and video material, and stores it in a database. When a video is uploaded, it is checked against the database, and flags the video as a copyright violation if a match is found. When this occurs, the content owner has the choice of blocking the video to make it unviewable, tracking the viewing statistics of the video, or adding advertisements to the video. By 2010, YouTube had "already invested tens of millions of dollars in this technology". In 2011, YouTube described Content ID as "very accurate in finding uploads that look similar to reference files that are of sufficient length and quality to generate an effective ID File". By 2012, Content ID accounted for over a third of the monetized views on YouTube.
But as the latest controversy around PewDiePie illustrates, his jokes have failed to land with many, many YouTube users, and there’s growing frustration with YouTube for not doing more to combat the growth of extremism in its midst. Though its most recent move of simply erasing PewDiePew from its rosily optimistic look back at 2018 might temporarily help to create a positive public image, when considering the evolution of PewDiePie’s influence alongside his steady drift toward the far right, it’s increasingly difficult to look back and laugh.
Regardless of the exact number, it's safe to assume that YouTube's ad sales are growing at a rapid clip. On its earnings calls, Google has signaled that outside of mobile search, YouTube has been the biggest driver behind its rapid ad sales growth. Last quarter, "paid clicks" on Google's own sites and apps rose 59% annually -- this figure covers not only actual ad clicks, but (among other things) the showing of YouTube video ads that were watched long enough for Google to get paid.
YouTube earns advertising revenue from Google AdSense, a program which targets ads according to site content and audience. The vast majority of its videos are free to view, but there are exceptions, including subscription-based premium channels, film rentals, as well as YouTube Premium, a subscription service offering ad-free access to the website and access to exclusive content made in partnership with existing users.