26 Jan 2018

How reliable is your YouTube Ad revenue?

The age of the #Adpocalypse is here – and, for YouTube creators, it might just be the end of the world as we know it. Fortunately, there are plenty of other worlds to conquer….

In case you missed it, there’s been a teensy bit of controversy on Planet YouTube in recent months.

It started with the revelation that some brands’ campaigns were being placed on videos that contained some deeply offensive material – hate speech, terrorist sympathising content and anti-Semitism. Yep…*that* sort of stuff.

Brands, understandably, were quick to pull their ad dollars from YouTube. We’re talking major companies like AT&T, General Motors, Walmart and Verizon all immediately stopping their campaigns in their tracks, costing YouTube an estimated $750m plus in advertising revenue for 2017. Sure, it may be a drop in the ocean for a huge company like Google, but still….ouch!

And here’s the problem: with less ad dollars to go around, YouTube creators saw their AdSense revenues plummet. Some, such as Ethan and Hila Klein, the brains behind h3h3productions, have claimed to be making as little as 15% of what they made before the boycott, and they’re not on their own. Far from it.

And that’s not the end of the current gripes for YouTubers. The platform’s ‘hit-and-miss’ machine learning algorithm has drawn the ire of creators, who claim that their videos are often being demonetised without justification or proper communication.

On a broader level, there’s a growing feeling that YouTube is increasingly starting to look past individual creators, with preferential treatment for media giants and big businesses.

This is a criticism levelled at other leading social channels, too – Facebook algorithm changes, for example, have meant that creators now need to pay for boosting their own posts to ensure that their own fans see them.

It seems to be getting harder and harder for individual creators to grow and monetize their channels.

YouTube giveth, YouTube taketh away

So what’s the takeaway from all of this? Well, put simply, it’s a perfect demonstration of how circumstances totally beyond your control can do profound damage to your revenue, your work and your livelihood.

Going forward, of course it’s still going to be possible to monetise your content on platforms like YouTube. At least to some extent.

But when your content is likely to be crowded out by the big boys, and ad dollars can be pulled at any time for reasons absolutely beyond your control – is that really ENOUGH? Without any control over your earnings, choosing YouTube as your exclusive online home is like selecting a rickety old shack, built on wobbly, sandy foundations. Eventually, it’s all going to come crashing down.

And this all underlines how crucially, vitally important it is for you, as a creator, to diversify your revenue streams – in other words, to establish and nurture multiple sources of monetisation, to safeguard against this kind of unforeseen and uncontrollable nastiness.

Different Worlds

And luckily, there are more different strategies at your disposal than ever before.

We’re increasingly seeing creators operate a presence on different channels like Twitch. Patreon, too, is gathering tremendous momentum, and is an incredibly popular home for creators content and community. It also provides a business model whereby the creator controls the monetisation aspect of their business, with the net result being much more simple and predictable monthly revenue.

Influencer merchandising is another area experiencing rapid growth, and is probably the number 1 tactic you need to be exploring further.

Creators are able to promote their own, branded products to their communities – with print-on-demand/drop-shipping services meaning that the creators themselves only need concern themselves with design and marketing. Order fulfilment and logistics are taken care of by a trusted third party like Kite – and, crucially, there’s no upfront cost to you, the creator, because you only pay after your customers have made a purchase. Many of the old headaches associated with setting up and operating a merchandising operation simply no longer apply.

Pushing your own products comes with a sense of authenticity that isn’t always easy to achieve when pushing other peoples’ products, and, of course, you already have a golden advantage in the world of e-commerce: a loyal, committed audience.


Closing Thoughts

YouTube has always been a tremendous vehicle for creators to publish monetised content –but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the vehicle is losing momentum.

Who knows, creator ad revenues might well bounce back and even exceed what they were in the past. But the simple fact is that, whenever you share your content on a platform you don’t control, you’re at the mercy of circumstances. The rug can always be pulled from underneath you, and that can have a catastrophic effect on your earnings.

There’s never been a better time for influencers to look into establishing new, robust revenue streams – and merchandising is definitely one you should be looking at.

A simple way to add an additional revenue stream to your business - one that you have more control over.

Shopify Merch Plugin