Youtube dropping monetization for storm videos (not April Fool's)

Discussion in 'Weather In The News' started by Dan Robinson, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    It appears that a major source of video revenue for storm chasers is in jeopardy.

    This week, facing pressure from major advertisers, Youtube began dropping monetization from scores of videos citing a new, more stringent advertiser-friendly policy regarding content that receives Adsense revenue. The new policy targets videos that cover controversial or "sensitive" subjects like political discussion, war and natural disasters. The pressure comes after a barrage of mainstream media stories about ads that were found to be playing on videos that contain controversial material. A few major corporations pulled their ad campaigns from the site in response, motivating Youtube to make the policy changes.

    I was not aware of this until recently, when one of my popular winter driving videos was de-monetized. Many popular channels have been hit, including some with millions of subscribers. I also received word from a longtime experienced chaser that all of their tornado videos were de-monetized.

    Of concern is the following bullet item in the new policy:

    Link to the full text of the policy:

    https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6162278?hl=en

    Blog post from Google on the subject:

    https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/youtube/09dw40n0iwY

    The criteria are sweeping, covering anything that could be deemed "controversial", including political commentary.

    The notification I received was apparently an automated bot that I could appeal, which I did.

    This could be a significant development in the chasing media world, should this play out across all channels that have weather videos covering tornadoes, floods, winter storms, hurricanes and more.
     
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    #1 Dan Robinson, Apr 1, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
  2. Brady Kendrick

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    Yeah this is really stating to bite a lot of people in the ass. I know some of those gaming YouTube Channel guys who do war games are getting nailed now and having hundreds of videos de-monetized now. Would be nuts if this became a issue for all the chasing video out there and would really suck. I personally don't have anything on youtube that is monetized but many others do here chasing wise.
     
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  3. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    The more I research this subject, the more interesting it gets! Apparently this is all tied to the Pewdiepie controversy, where several mainstream media outlets wrote hit pieces about the brand of humor on his channel. The fallout ended up with Disney pulling their support for him and Youtube re-evaluating their content policies for ad-supported videos. As you say, many, many people are getting hit by this. I'm hoping it's a temporary knee-jerk reaction from Youtube and not something they will impose long-term. The new guidelines as interpreted are so restrictive that almost anyone could be hit.

    If they do stick with it, it will be bad news for chasers. Currently there are no other viable outlets for online monetization of content.
     
  4. Nate Gillson

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    Paul Joseph Watson was talking about this on March 24. Not linking the video here as it has lots of cursing but he brings out a point (aka censorship). It would really suck if this is long term as Dan Robinson said.

    I should point out that all of Paul Joseph Watson's videos, as well as PewDiePie, AlexJones (InfoWars) and many others are gone in restricted mode. I'm not subscribed to any of those channels.
     
  5. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Nate, I agree - it appears chasers may be simply collateral damage in a bigger battle playing out between the old and new media.
     
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  6. Nate Gillson

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    Yes, just as Paul Joseph Watson pointed out in the video I referred to in my previous post. He pointed out that anyone who just had a different opinion on a political issue (as an example) could get censored on YouTube.

    Also, I highly doubt any storm chaser's channels on YouTube will get censored (hopefully I don't jinx it!).
     
  7. ScottCurry

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    Dan, I'm surprised they demonetized one of your videos. You always take an informative, teaching approach. The only video I can think of that they might have demonetized would have been your winter compilation video, which I remember you took great strides to exclude wrecks where injuries occurred.

    I personally take a news approach to my storm chasing channels. But it appears that the news items are being hit hard. I find that strange, given Google's own terms in the link you provided:

    Advertiser-friendly content is content that's appropriate for all audiences. It has little to no inappropriate or mature content in the video stream, thumbnail, or metadata (such as in the video title). If the video does contain inappropriate content, the context is usually newsworthy or comedic and the creator’s intent is to inform or entertain (not offend or shock).

    Oddly, that directly contradicts what they list just below that:

    Content that is considered "not advertiser-friendly" includes, but is not limited to:

    • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
    • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
    • Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language
    • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items
    • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown
    So is it the natural disasters part that makes it get demonetized? Or is it the newsworthy part that allows it to stay monetized? None of this makes sense. It's just too conflicting.

    So what is the solution?

    Google did say, "If you’re seeing fluctuations in your revenue over the next few weeks, it may be because we’re fine tuning our ads systems to address these concerns. While this can be unsettling, we’re working as fast we can to improve our systems so that advertisers feel more confident in our platform and revenue continues to flow to creators over the long term."

    Do we ride it out and just wait for Google to get this whole thing figured out? I think at a minimum, we submit a manual review for every single video that gets demonetized.

    Or do we try and find another platform? I mean, really. What options are there? YouTube is like the last place on earth to make a little money as a hobby storm chaser.
     
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  8. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I've been reading articles and watching other Youtubers' videos on this (lots of them out there) and here is what I am interpreting as the sequence of events:

    1.) The mainstream media has been losing viewers to the "new media" (mostly Youtubers) in critical numbers, threatening their very existence.

    2.) Mainstream media's desperation plan has been to attack these competitors with articles singling out corporations (Disney, Pepsi, etc) whos advertisements play on content that some might find questionable (some of those may be valid concerns, others are gross misrepresentations of the content). The "Pewdiepie" channel was the opening salvo in this saga (Google that for the story).

    3.) These companies, wanting to save face from all the bad press, pull their advertising dollars from Youtube

    4.) Youtube scrambles to try to retain ad accounts and win back the lost ad dollars by pledging to restrict where these ads appear. Hence the new policy and mass demonetizations.

    5.) Mainstream media offers to financially shore up the Youtube platform by using it as their main online outlet for streaming

    If the mainstream media succeeds in what they want:

    - The mainstream media Youtube channels are given preference over the "new media" creators, and corporate advertisers steer ad revenue to these "official" channels

    - The "new media" channels, now deprived of meaningful funding, die off by attrition. Without this competition, the mainstream media recaptures its lost viewership.

    The villian here appears to be the media, misrepresenting Youtubers the same way they've done with storm chasers. In this case, it's to embarrass the corporate advertisers into pulling ad revenue from Youtube.

    Much of this battle is happening over political stances, with political commentators and independent journalists across the spectrum the hardest hit. It makes sense that independent journalists on Youtube would be hit, as they are direct competitors. That line about "sensitive subjects" (war, natural disasters, politics) is telling, as those are the very things the mainstream media normally covers. It makes perfect sense that they want to de-fund anyone covering the same things they do in direct competition.

    Many are talking about jumping ship to something like vid.me, but in the end, it's the corporate advertiser dollars that will have the final say. Options include going to Patreon or pay-per-view, essentially going entirely viewer funded. Patreon requires you to beg for a monthly donation, while pay-per-view would really keep things from going organically viral.

    Things are changing in the landscape, whether they will be good for small time creators remains to be seen.
     
    #8 Dan Robinson, Apr 1, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  9. ScottCurry

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    People are resourceful and creative. Small time content creators will find a way to continue on and make money. Whether it's YouTube backing down, switching to another service, or creating a whole new format that is yet to be seen - we will find a way. YouTube wasn't always around, and they won't be around forever. One of these days, they will go the way of AOL, Yahoo, and Blockbuster.

    The key for storm chasers is to be willing to constantly adapt and change. YouTube happens to be the "it" place right now. What were to happen if Facebook allowed monetization of videos? Or Twitter? That could change everything. What if VR takes off, and another platform supports VR way better than YouTube, and then everybody switches to this new platform?

    My point is that change happens quickly in technology. Let's not get too focused on making YouTube work. Either YouTube will allow monetization of small time content creators, or those creators will create a different platform where they can make money. Then we will all switch. Those that get started on the new platform first will be the most successful, while those that hold to YouTube will struggle (just like those holding on to live streaming struggle).

    Since none of use have billions of dollars to fight this thing, we really only have two options:
    1. Wait it out, and hope for the best (wishful thinking if you take this route),
    2. Change and adopt and find something that works.
    What are you going to do?
     
  10. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Here is a good explanation of the situation from someone that works in the online advertising field:



    It turns out that this situation may actually help some of us in the long run, since one of the things Youtube has done to help stop inappropriate content is to disable Adsense *completely* for any non-partnered channels. This means all of those pirate channels that pop up every day and steal everyone's videos won't be able to immediately start raking in ad revenue like they do now. Hopefully that will stem the tide of DMCA takedowns I have to do.
     
  11. TJKLECKNER

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    Well, after 30 days, we should pull our content off youtube, or just make everything private. When the videos dry up, youtube will become MySpace
     
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  12. Darrick T. Shores

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    The sad truth is that, this seems to be the trend throughout the country in numerous fields, encompassing a vast arena. We are rapidly becoming a police state. And divided in every since of the word. Insanity. Sadly it wouldn't surprise me.
     
  13. rdale

    rdale EF5

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    Wait - what? YouTube isn't paying for storm video - and we're a police state? I hope I'm just misunderstanding you...
     
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  14. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Youtube is probably not the bad guy in this story, it's mostly the media for misrepresenting/overblowing the problem (as they often do) and the corporate advertisers who should already know how to control where ads appear (it's not rocket science, there is a checkbox in Google Adwords to restrict ads to "family friendly" content only). Monetization requires advertisers to buy ads, companies can't be forced to do this. If they want to leave Youtube, they'll leave and there isn't much creators can do. Youtube's reaction is pretty nuclear in terms of defunding almost everything but kid and puppy videos, I can't see how excluding so much content from the ad pools will help them in the long run. In the end, it's the advertisers' choice on how this plays out, creators are pretty much at their mercy no matter what platform they move to.
     
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  15. Douglas Kiesling

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  16. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    The rollout of the AI-driven demonetization/censoring has started in force this week. A large number of high-profile channels have been hit - including those of independent journalists like Tim Pool. There are reports that Hurricane Irma videos are being hit as well.
     
    #17 Dan Robinson, Sep 7, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
  17. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    My channel was hit by another wave of demonetization today, 15 videos including another 2 of my most popular ones. Some pending appeals. If this continues, I will be closing my channel.

    There are currently no alternatives for creators to publish monetized content. We may be entering a new era of "citizen journalist" cell phone-only content, as financial incentive to do things professionally or semi-pro is rapidly vanishing.

    yt-dm.jpg
     
    #18 Dan Robinson, Sep 10, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  18. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Another update (September 12). Youtube reinstated monetization on one of my high-view videos (shown above) after I appealed.
     
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  19. Douglas Kiesling

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    Youtube is a joke now for anything to do with monetization as returns have dropped way off due to the new policy and lack of advertisers after the big hit by The Wall Street Journal. Here is a great video about why this happened.

    This time last year if you asked me about working with Youtube to create and grow the channel and get to the 100K sub mark and work on growing and expand the channel, I would have talked your ear off about how cool and exciting things are and the new possibilities are.

    Now we honestly only post stuff to youtube because we have to for the CMS system to catch all the copy right claims B.S.
     
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  20. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I discovered there are certain keywords that if used in a video's title, description or tags, can automatically trigger Youtube's AI demonetization bot. If left unedited prior to appeal, it could cause the video to not pass manual review:

    damage
    disaster
    injuries
    accident
    crash
    collision
    severe
    destroy
    fatal
    tragedy
    flooded

    There are probably more of these trigger words, but all of my demonetized videos had one of these words in the description. Even if nothing graphic is shown on the video, if the description has something like "this tornado outbreak destroyed five houses and injured ten people", it could trigger the AI bot and make the video ineligible for ads, even if it is reviewed manually.

    Basically you have to make the video description/title as "snowflake-friendly" as possible, as if you're describing the event to a young child. I have had two videos successfully appealed just by removing the word "accident" from the description.
     
    #21 Dan Robinson, Sep 14, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  21. Douglas Kiesling

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    Yes found the same thing too, terror is another hot topic to not say.

    Pretty much you need to say
    Epic Whirlwind Blowing Through The Land Of Oz Lifting Mouscatools And Play Houses Into The Air.
     
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  22. Andy Wehrle

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    Hmmm, none of my storm videos have been de-monentized, yet (granted none of them are particularly dramatic or popular). A few have the word "severe" in the title and/or description, in the context of "severe thunderstorm."
     
  23. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    The bot's slowly making the rounds. The first reports of this latest wave were back in August, I didn't get hit until the 10th of this month. Another video of mine was hit this morning. It looks like it will be an ongoing thing.
     
  24. Greg Flint

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    Wouldn't Youtube (Alphabet/Google) be losing money if they are no longer monitizing millions upon millions of videos?

    I would think the easiest solution for them would be to do a more thorough review of the actual content in the videos, rather than simply scrape the descriptions/headings for specific words like "severe, crash, collision etc".
     

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