A Deep, Inside Look at YouTube, Creators & Advertising

Last week I wrote a post where I interviewed Al, the algorithm behind YouTube. I received a lengthy comment from someone identifying him/herself as 1000Lurkers (e-mail was not real). It’s clearly written based on some fairly intense observation, and I believe some “inside” knowledge of YouTube’s relationship with Partners and advertisers. I’m not suggesting it’s all accurate, and is clearly laced with opinion and conjecture. But it’s just too damned smart, precise and fascinating to leave as a comment…

How I imagine 1000Lurkers to look

It is impossible to make a distinction between amateurs and professionals on YouTube. Referring to yourself as an amateur rings doubly hollow since you are one for the people who makes a living from the site.

It is much easier to draw a line between Partners and non-Partners.

Partner status itself is broken down into two tiers. There are partners who have someone unofficially working for/with them inside YouTube and there are those Partners who do not.

If you look carefully you will see that YouTube has been switching off the positive weighting on different YouTube Partner channels progressively since February so as not to cause a widespread unified backlash.

If you look closer still, you will see that those channels who have a YouTube employee playing an active part in the “success” of their channels have been unaffected.

You should be happy Nalts (sarcasm).

You were happy when YouTube bought Next New Networks and gave the “studio’s” owner a pretend job. You were happy to see tens of thousands of dollars being frittered away by YouTube employees on their cronies in the NextUp program (do you really need me to name names? The dogs in the street know who got into that program because their buddy(s) works for YouTube).

To be fair to NNN, he did teach the people in NextUp everything he knew about online video, which was basically to parody/steal a popular artists song melody and title and then get his gimp inside YouTube to feature his studio’s video so that it got a higher YouTube search rank than the original. The video then sucks up all the “related” views generated by other content surrounding the song/artist.

In other words NNN taught more people to how to damage the site (as if anyone in NextUp needed instructions, they were just there for the cash).

Why would I now pick on the stupidity surrounding NNN’s acquisition and the wasted money (which is insignificant in terms of YouTube’s entire budget)?

YouTube has bought into the idea of “Studios” absorbing channels with popular videos and reselling the advertising for a much higher CPM. YouTube bought the idea so hard that it brought one of the existing studios (NNN) inhouse.

The problem, Nalts is that there is only so much “free” shit to go around in YouTube. If there are three YouTube employees moonlighting for their own three “Studios” outside of YouTube then there is going to be a fight as each one of them tries to get their “parody” of Lady Gaga’s latest song featured.

My personal supposition is that someone inside YouTube got sick of YouTube employees fighting over access to what is essentially a flaw in the site and set out to fix the code to ensure no one could exploit it in the future.

Now when a studio and their YouTube gimployee try and pull the bait and switch trick in a YouTube feature slot for easy money it won’t be so profitable.

This is a very slow process that has been in progress since February. It may take years for YouTube to cleanse itself of all the bait and switch bullshit that YouTube employees are responsible for promoting as they built their own little empires.

YouTube will never be completely free of abuse by gimployees for their personal gain unless the tools to abuse the site are removed from the hands of those self-serving individuals.

Since YouTube is unwilling to remove the gimployees, it has to automate the tools.

As far a real amateurs are concerned, they weren’t making money on YouTube, and they weren’t being helped by the gimployees, so they have lost nothing.

As far as Partners/professionals are concerned, if you don’t have your own gimployee then you have lost access to one more YouTube exploit that you used to have.

As far as studios/resellers are concerned, their future is uncertain.

Studios/resellers exist because YouTube the company is failing to sell advertising for high CPMs. All studios are doing is replacing the Ad Space execs role at YouTube. The studios/resellers absorb content and channels that are already popular on YouTube, they do not need to create content or do the dozen other things YouTubers do, they just sell ad space.

If the ability of gimployees to make content popular in any lasting manner is removed (as it seems to be in the process of) then the viability of studios that are entirely based on the activities of gimployees is also removed.

They could rely on hovering up the latest accidentally viral videos and channels from noobie creators, but that is not an entirely straightforward process (for several convoluted legal reasons concerning the YouTube Partner contract).

YouTube Studios may, (god forbid), actually start imitating real “studios” and start producing genuinely popular content. I’m not going to hold my breath while waiting for that to happen.

Three things occur to me.

1. Nalts Studio should have been created years ago. If anyone was ideally placed to resell advertising space on behalf of a company of 1000+ youtubers its was you.

2. Selling advertising space with a high CPM on YouTube is hard work. You could never have done it unless you built a company and committed to it 24/7. The volatile nature of YouTubers and their content would have made the micromanagement required a living hell.

3. Nalts Studios would have caused you to have complete
nervous breakdown, most probably when it failed after the latest YouTube update. Good call on not creating it years ago.

If you are still no wiser about where YouTube is headed after this revamp is complete (months worth to go yet) or where you should be headed now that the goal posts have been moved yet again then, you need to retrace your steps and ask yourself when YouTube Inc stopped being afraid of you, and you became afraid of it.


7 Replies to “A Deep, Inside Look at YouTube, Creators & Advertising”

  1. WOW! I suspected a lot of these in house issues, but never voiced it. I knew Al was not the be all and end all of having your videos “HIT”. Although, I did take Margaret’s advice at Vidcon to heart and worked hard on the metadata for a lot of our videos. But as you noted somewhere else, most “viral videos” that hit don’t have any metadata in them.

    Still processing and trying to see if we will “FIT” in at YouTube. We are not a “popular” channel, but have heart and I can live with that for now.

    Thanks Kevin. All the best in your new venture.

  2. Thanks Nalt. I appreciate you keeping on this. Though I will try not to let it discourage me.

    My concern as of late, is YT inability to innovate advertising models. Not only are we still serving pre-roll ads unrelated to the content, but now YT has done the unthinkable and served banner ads at the bottom of pages that have blaring audio that will assault you if you are inactive on the page for a few minutes. Talk about destroying the user experience.

    Why has YT not bought out a company like CLVRtv, that has great interactive video technology? This would make ads super relevant and fun as hell.

    I take it this is because the ad industry is not ready to go from CPM to more of a CPA right?

  3. This is why I have all but dropped off the face of youtube. Mind you I have not stopped making videos I just found a new home for them. I am writing scripts and for a web show and helping local film makers with their projects. Online video is slowly movie away from creators to profit which is fitting really. I have watch once great youtube channels fall to the wayside and have seen overly done badly acted channels get all the hits. I still have my favorite people to watch. smpfilms, zackscott, sxephil and nalts. I might return too vlogging again but right now I have one to many fruits in my basket. Oh and Nalts you are still one of the reasons I am doing what I am doing.

  4. Y so sad 🙁

    The trend started pretty early on, around the time when Google bought YouTube. It came in increments. First redoing the categories page, slowly pushing the vloggers out of the spotlight, the featured videos page (remember that dinosaur?) and then an stop-motion avalanche of changes that amounted to what YT looks like today.

  5. I’m one of those parters without the help or contact with a You Tube employee. Trying to figure out whether it’s worth signing with a studio/reseller or not. Love getting 100% of our own revenue (probably much less than a studio could get with the same content), but don’t want to fall behind as studios and now shows actually encouraged by You Tube get bigger.

    From my observations, a lot of this post makes sense though.

    What i want to know is, how can you get this help from a You Tube employee? Does anyone contact you if you reach a certain level in subs or revenue? Or is this more like “my college buddy makes stupid videos, i’m gonna help him from the inside!”

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