In the past couple of weeks, major companies have been pulling their ads off Google advertising, including McDonald’s, Audi, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Dish Network and a major advertising company called Havas Worldwide. It has become an all-around boycott of advertising on Google and YouTube and one has to wonder at the reason why. It turns out, these major companies are afraid of being associated with terrorists. Their ads have been seen before videos depicting terrorist acts and racist content and for them that was not acceptable. Right now, it’s not easy to tell where this entire situation will be going, but one thing is for certain. Both Google and the companies advertising with Google should pay more attention to YouTube content creators.
Before going any deeper, it is necessary to talk about how people who make videos on YouTube make a living. Once getting up to more than 10,000 views, a person can join the YouTube Partner program and monetize their videos. Essentially, they let Google put ads on their videos and get some of the money Google makes from running those ads. With enough views on many videos a day, some YouTubers make millions of dollars. Major problems can arise when the ads disappear, though.
People who rely on ad revenue to pay their bills have gotten mostly cut off from their paychecks. Even YouTuber Pewdiepie, who has over 50 million subscribers and over 2 million views on most of his videos, has talked about how much his pay has been cut because of this ad shortage. Apparently, he only made just over $12 on one recent video that had over 3 million views. How are these people supposed to continue making videos full time if they can’t get paid for them? Many of them have dedicated their lives to creating content on YouTube and being ignored like this is not fair to them.
In the meantime, Google and YouTube are trying their best to make sure no more advertisers pull their ads but they haven’t been helping the creators or themselves. The company has made demonetization process broader and more automatic, which means many more videos have been designated as videos that cannot run ads because of their content. Their solution to having less ads per video was to have less videos ads can play on. This lowers both YouTube’s and the content creators’ ad revenue and still hasn’t convinced companies to keep their ads on YouTube. It’s not working.
Many of these demonetizations are not even fair. Phillip DeFranco, a creator who talks about the news on his channel, added to his coverage of this story by talking about the number of his demonetized videos. Apparently, the list was three pages long and he didn’t get so much as an email. The problem with this is that DeFranco’s channel does not condone any kind of terrorist act or racist sentiment. He does report on them but there is no way the ads that go before those videos will be associated with what is going on in the news, especially since DeFranco always takes a stance against terrorism and racism.
As for the advertising companies, they should pay more attention to YouTubers specifically because videos that are being demonetized don’t necessarily have racist or terrorist content in them. Maybe they could work together with Google instead of simply leaving them. Maybe they should conduct surveys to see if frequent viewers ever remember which ads went with which videos, let alone associate the advertiser with the content. There were – and still are – so many options other than abandoning an advertising system they’ve probably used for years.
Overall, this whole situation seems to be like everyone is worried. The advertisers are worried that people will think ill of them because of the content their ads are on, Google is worried they won’t get these advertisers back, creators are worried they won’t get much money out of YouTube anymore and viewers are worried about their favorite channels dying. I think at least some of these companies should stop the boycott of Google ads, if only because Google is implementing these new policies in response. Maybe then Google and YouTube could focus more on helping the content creators.