Adpocalypse, Now What?

CREDIT: Getty Images

In March this year, YouTube turned worlds upside down.

Following a number of articles showing big brands running ads next to extreme, abusive and distasteful videos, major advertisers began pulling out of advertising on YouTube and a couple of other Google owned ad platforms en masse whilst demanding reform. Knowing that public opinion is very easy to lose and very hard to win back especially with popular initiatives like StopFundingHate gaining prominence coupled with the fact that 90% of their revenue comes from ads YouTube and their advertisers were quick to act.

This quick act resembled a knee jerk reaction where YouTube just pulled the plug. To win back their main ad partners’ trust and dollars they took the ultra conservative approach of not displaying ads from next to nearly everything that could be construed as ‘offensive’ so there were a lot more casualties than the people actually posting abusive and hateful stuff that they were targeting. Huge swathes of content-makers including many of the super popular creators on the platform suddenly stopped being given the option to show advertising alongside some and in severe cases all of their content. These type of ads make up the lion’s share of the typical creator’s earnings on YouTube and left creators with huge reductions on the amount they were previously taking home making the same content.

This had led to many complaints about YouTube’s practices and their lack of consultation and communication with the same people bringing millions of viewers to their platform. Some have even likened this to a form of censorship — they couldn’t earn directly from YouTube if their content wasn’t in line with what YouTube wanted. With this, some are leaving the platform or operating at a much reduced capacity.

These are only a couple of the few options creators have, of course; they can self censor themselves and create watered down content to ensure the advertising stays on, jump ship — start creating for other platforms or remain where their audience is on YouTube and adapt to the new challenge in front of them in regards to monetising the views they’re still getting.

Normally, it’s usually the most flexible, versatile and resourceful that will find the opportunity in any sudden upheaval. Creators mustn’t forget it’s not the advertisers who are in charge. It’s the viewers. The advertisers and the network may have pulled the plug, but the viewers haven’t.

Creators mustn’t undervalue the Herculean task they’ve already achieved building up an audience with original content from nothing. They shouldn’t underestimate the power in an audience tuning into to watch their content on a regular basis. They cannot be disheartened because huge brands don’t want to play with them any more for fear of a backlash.

As long as there is an audience there’s an opportunity — no matter the size. We look to creators who supplement their content by selling merchandise, taking their shows on the road and some even tapping their followers to help crowd-fund more ambitious projects.

We believe the creators who’ll win will be the ones who figure out the ways to keep their content authentic but no longer rely on solely earning on YouTube by the traditional method.

Services like YouTube Red and Patreon do a great job giving fans a way to contribute to their favourite creators by taking donations and passing them on, on a regular basis.

We’re building Prizify so creators will simply have another way to lean on their audience to give them a chance to support their content while importantly offering the incentive of giving them a opportunity to win something exciting every time. We take care of all the leg work and they can focus their time and energy making the stuff they’re best at.

As with any sudden change there are always casualties but there are always winners, too.