YouTube's new ad guidelines hurting small-time creators

Some Ottawa-area YouTubers are crying foul over the company's decision to remove ads from videos that don't generate significant revenue for their creators.

New rules aimed at appeasing advertisers making it harder for lesser-known contributors to share in revenue

Maxim Saumure, left, and Christophe Paquette, creators of YouTube channel Hops and Bros, say they're concerned about changes to YouTube's new ad policy.

Some Ottawa-area YouTubers are crying foul over the company's decision to remove ads from videos that don't generate large amounts of revenue for their creators.

It's just sad to see we've been let down by YouTube in the last week just for not being big enough for them.- Christophe Paquette, YouTube vlogger

Under YouTube's new monetization standards, a "significant" number of YouTube channels — 99 per cent of which generated less than $100 from ads in the last year — will lose their advertising altogether.

The Google-owned company made the announcement Tuesday in response to advertisers who complained they've been underwriting inappropriate online material. YouTube's "de-monetization" overhaul actually began in 2012.

Starting Feb. 20, only channels that have been viewed for 4,000 hours by 1,000 unique subscribers over the last 12 months will be able to host ads and share in the revenue. That's being seen as a significant step up from standards introduced last April, which required more followers but didn't set a bar for viewing time.

'It's just not logical'

Christophe Paquette, half of the Gatineau-based duo behind YouTube video blog Hops and Bros, said his channel has been feeling the pinch.
'It's just sad to see we've been let down by YouTube,' says video blogger Christophe Paquette, right. (Submitted)

"As a platform that needs to make money out of ads, [YouTube] won't promote videos that are not monetized. It's just not logical," said Paquette, whose channel has attracted close to 500 followers.

"It just slowed down our growth so much over the last year.… It's just sad to see we've been let down by YouTube in the last week just for not being big enough for them," Paquette said.

According to Renée Yoxon, an Ottawa-raised singer-songwriter who now lives in Montreal, the new standards unfairly target YouTube's smallest producers.

"Instead of fixing their system they created rules that overwhelmingly affect those people who tend to have smaller audiences and way less watch time," said Yoxon, whose channel has 1,400 subscribers, but hasn't logged the hours to meet YouTube's new standards.

"It targets channels that are already disadvantaged and make it harder for them to reach the threshold."

Other Ottawa musicians sounded off on social media.

In a blog post, YouTube acknowledged that barring small channels from advertising eligibility will not fully address concerns raised by some advertisers about videos that go too far.

Controversial videos

Celebrity video blogger Logan Paul has 15 million followers, but YouTube recently scaled back its commercial relationship with him after he posted a video showing a dead body in Aokigahara, Japan's notorious "Suicide Forest."

The video has since been removed, but not before angry advertisers expressed outrage that their brands had been associated with it.
Singer-songwriter Renée Yoxon said YouTube is penalizing smaller content producers in a misdirected effort to remedy problems created by stars with millions of subscribers. (Submitted)

Paquette blames YouTube's own  algorithms.

"An algorithm is supposed to learn by itself and choose the best content that people would like to see. But so far the algorithm let that video go up and go top 10 in the trending videos, which is literally against the YouTube guidelines." 

A previous round of policy-tightening came in 2017 after more than 250 advertisers cut back on YouTube ad-buying following news reports that found their ads displayed alongside extremist propaganda.

Mondelez International Inc., whose brands include Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers, and computer and printer maker HP Inc. were among the dropouts.

YouTube has promised to open a dialogue with creators to find a solution.

Files from Thomson Reuters