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YouTube doesn’t keep its promises, but does it matter?


In the YouTube blog post entitled ‘Priorities for 2019’, company executives show they are still out of touch with the creator and advertising communities. However, with such a large audience and robust growth does it even matter?

Creators are ’still’ the number 1 priority

It’s no secret that 2017 was a tough year for YouTube creators. Thousands had their videos demonetized and sometimes deleted with no recourse. As a result, YouTube executives made ‘transparency and communication’ the priority for 2018. To that end, the CEO of the social video platform, Susan Wojcicki, promised to post more videos on her own YouTube channel. One year later, things haven’t changed. Transparency and communication remain the priority for 2019, and the CEO says she will try and communicate more than last year.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube

A quick look at Ms. Wojcicki’s YouTube channel shows that in 2018 she posted just two videos. Each video contained a ‘like to dislike’ ratio of 1 to 9, meaning 90% of viewers disliked the video. Moreover, glancing over the comments section shows many users complaining that she still “doesn’t get it.” The Priorities for 2019 blog post made no mention of 2018’s weak communication performance. Instead, it continued to highlight positive changes.

According to the post, the monetization icon – which indicates the monetization status of a video – is ‘40% more accurate.’ As well, the post claimed responses to social posts and inquiries increased 150%. Though the claims appear to indicate progress, they mirror the kind of statistics YouTube management was touting last year. As well, a video Ms. Wojcicki posted a week ago was received no better by the creator community, showing the same ‘dislike to like’ ratio of 90%.

One of the heavily disliked videos uploaded by Ms. Wojcicki

Back in 2018, in an updated blog post, Ms. Wojcicki boasted higher response rates to tweeted questions (75%) and a decrease in monetization appeals by 50%. Notwithstanding the claims, the opinion of creators remains unchanged. The problems remain unaddressed.

Advertisers are back in the fold

2017 was a bad year for YouTube advertisers too. At the beginning of that year, many advertisers fled the platform after their ads ran next to controversial videos. Ms. Wojcicki stated that she believes most of the advertisers ‘are back.’

According to the blog post, YouTube has implemented stricter rules and enforcement of the community guidelines. The same claim appeared in last years ‘Priorities for 2018.’ Unfortunately, there is no way for us to validate these claims. However, given the company is continuing the stricter enforcement, it’s safe to say that the underlying problem remains.

The return of brands may convince some that the social video site is doing a better job at monitoring content. However, there is a much simpler explanation for the brands returning to the fold.

Audience size and growth trump everything else

In a nScreenMedia piece last week, we mentioned how YouTube is now more popular than television with UK youth. Advertisers may squirm at the occasional inappropriate video, but YouTube remains the best place to reach the young. As well, the opportunity to reach 2 billion unique viewers every month is just too good to resist.

Despite being unhappy, creators also cannot resist the allure of a platform that can deliver such a large audience. Channels with over one million subscribers have doubled since last year, and the number of creators earning five or six figures has increased by 40%. YouTube would argue that its changes are responsible for the improvement in creator performance. However, a user growth rate of 20% in 10 months from 1.5 to 1.8 billion could just as easily account for this.

There is no way to be sure if YouTube’s changes have delivered improvements for creators and advertisers. However, the simple truth is that there are not many useful alternatives to YouTube. As long as the audience is there and growing, creators and advertisers aren’t going anywhere.





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