The State of the State
The Adpocalypse that began in 2017 brought about changes in determining how safe content is (or “appropriate,” as Google has said) for advertising in the Google ad network. YouTube, of course, is part of that network.
These changes have resulted in significant problems for YouTube creators making money from their videos through ads. So much so, that lawsuits are pending. For YouTube creators, their objections have been mostly aimed directly at YouTube… which makes sense as YouTube is a seemingly all-encompassing platform.
However, the ads on YouTube are actually powered and governed primarily by Google Ads and it has empowered advertisers to more easily filter out creators. The “safe / appropriate” content classification plus advertisers more easily filtering out content is a one-two punch that has hit YouTube creators right in the wallet.
The Platform Behind the Curtain
Google Ads was created in 2000 and is a primary revenue stream for Google. The ad platform controls 37% of digital ad spending, beating out Amazon and Facebook.
Advertisers use Google’s ad platform for all targeting, chief of which is content targeting. This is where content safety / appropriateness lives. After the Adpocalypse, advertisers wanted easier means to avoid placing ads where they (and their customers) didn’t want them. Google obliged.
Google Ads now provides three content (inventory) buckets that are organized by “safety” level:
• Limited: think daytime TV
• Standard: think night / late-night TV (recommended by default)
• Expanded: think graphic nudity, slasher movies, and politics
Too Short (on Safety) to Ride This Ride
Google breaks down these buckets in even more detail below. Creators with content that falls into the red exclusions under Standard Inventory (the gray shaded column) is troubling. Creators with content only included in Expanded Inventory, much more so. This is because Standard Inventory is the recommended (default) inventory type for advertisers. The experience here nudges advertisers in this direction.
Furthermore, advertisers who look to maximize their safety have the Limited Inventory option. Content with just moderate profanity or dancing deemed sensual could be excluded.
Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t
Without creators, YouTube has no content to place ads on. Without advertisers, YouTube has no ads to place on content.
This is a symbiosis that is difficult to balance. On one side you have board rooms, ROI, profits, and Wall Street accountability. On the other you have creativity, passion, causes, and making a living.
It’s up to Google / YouTube to make it work to survive. No pressure.
Bottom Line: Safety Should Be Your Middle Name
Diversification of revenue such as brand deals, ongoing sponsorship tie-ins, merchandising and placing exclusive content behind a paywall are good to help keep your revenue safe.
Having your own blog / website and involving your subscribers in other social media is important. This keeps your relationships with you, safe and strong, even if YouTube stops putting your content in front of them as much.
Have you experienced Adpocalypse fallout?
How have you been affected and what have you changed to adapt?
What tips can you share with other creators?