Another major shift in an Internet giant points to a classic mistake of following the money.
Unless you live under a rock, you probably know about the YouTube Ad Apocalypse. If not, here’s the TLDR version:
YouTubers gain a huge following by creating content people want to watch. (no surprise). Sometimes they say things that are controversial. (yeah, got it) Brands who spend millions in ad spend got scared they would get flack if their ad ran on said videos, and pulled their ad budget. (uh, oh) YouTube did two things, and the Internet lost its mind. 1) They converted new video content from major YouTubers into ‘restricted mode’, aka can’t be viewed. 2) Subscribers to said channels were unsubscribed and could not resubscribe to their favorite channels.
With me so far? Good. Seems pretty logical on the surface. Revenue was threatened, teach those wiley YouTube kids that they need to stay in line if they want to use “free speech”.
When people (or corporations) start to make an insane amount of money, the primary focus is protecting and growing that money. Often losing sight of “where they came from”. The breakdown in this business model shift is the fault of the platform and the advertisers.
First, why is this a bad thing? “I mean, c’mon Jenn, there’s some pretty nasty content on YouTube and we need to protect people from being exposed to anything that’s not “PC”. OK, George Orwell, calm down. Do you think YouTube blew up because users only uploaded videos of kittens and rainbows? Admittedly, I’ve watched my fair share of cat vids. But, the titan blew up because it was an unfiltered user-generated television channel. In short order, people learned how to create content that people loved and YouTuber became a very lucrative job. See ya, ‘starving artist’. I see this spanking and content censoring a very bad thing. These guys have millions of followers. Let that word set in, ‘followers’. If content and entire channels take their views and videos somewhere else…they will probably take those viewers, AKA potential customers of advertisers with them. How valuable are those advertising video views going to be when you are losing content and viewers? Admittedly, that’s a dystopian view of an internet brand as much a household word as their owner, Google. But, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that market share could shake. The internet is still, at it’s heart, a place for people to gain access to new media entertainment. When something stops being cool, the people of the Interwebs just leave.
In this point summary, this is bad because censoring free and popular speech makes it less cool. And, content creators who now are making 1/2 a paycheck bc subscribers and views took a dive, will move and take the fans with them. After all, “mess with my money, you mess with my emotions”
Second reason this is a bad thing? Advertisers need to get a clue. If you are using behavioral marketing, your target audience just might be watching a PewDiePie vid on a topic they are curious about. Demographic, overly-managed demo targeting didn’t work. We tried it, and we found out the individual does not live in a neat, little box. Sometimes, behavior is erratic and not associated with “boxed research”. I don’t care what my customer does on the web, I want to be in front of them if they’ll be a good match for my product. Here’s why: all money is green, it is not my place as a marketer to judge anyone, and business/politics/religion/free speech do not mix. By pulling your ad from website or video that you don’t agree with, you are judging your customers. And, people don’t buy from judgy-mcjudgerston.
Bottom line: YouTube made billions by owning nothing on the backs of user-generated content. Now, they are taking millions out of their pockets in order to appease and keep more billions from brands who can’t understand an ad roll does not mean endorsement. It’s been 20 years for these brand dinosaurs to learn about digital marketing. I understand a learning curve, but get your sh*t together, fr.
This is 100% personal opinion and I am not saying don’t use or advertise on YouTube. I’m just saying, it might go vanilla and the world wants sprinkles.