YouTube just revised their terms of service to include a clause preventing creators from using advertising graphics from personal brand deals on their videos. Any advertisers that want to advertise with say, Toby Turner or an Amazing Phil now have to go through YouTube’s sawblades to do it (with Google naturally taking a nice little cut for themselves) in order to gain visual exposure. With YouTube taking a more active role when it comes to branding, this has the potential to lead to a scenario in which YouTube takes control of ALL branding opportunities.
There’s a scene in Ghostbusters where the fellas describe the so-called End of Days:
“Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”
That’s pretty much what would happen in a world where YouTube controlled all the advertising and YouTubers had none of the power. Okay, maybe it wouldn’t be that severe, but we certainly don’t want to live in a state-run dystopia like that.
To perhaps inform and persuade YouTube to think of the bigger picture, we here at NMR have put together some of the potential ramifications of what would happen if YouTube did seize total control of advertising and brand deals:
1. It will likely drive both creators and brands to other platforms (Vimeo, Dailymotion, Rev3 — hell, maybe even Facebook)
Let us tell you about a little headache that is springing up for YouTube as we speak: Vessel. Started by Jason Kilar, former head of Hulu, Vessel is taking a HEAVY interest in putting creators first. They believe that creators have an almost divine right to make money for their content. So imagine when YouTube tries to tell their creators that all money deals have to go through them (and give them a percentage) and Vessel is standing there with open arms, how that will shake out.
And guess what? YouTube doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are plenty of other video platforms out there just waiting for YouTube to stumble so they can seize some market share.
Depending on who you talk to, this may or may not be a bad thing. But MCNs are useful for smaller and mid-level creators. They have swing and influence with brands, a dedicated fan base and the know-how to guide careers. Like ‘em or lump ‘em, MCNs do provide a service. And if you take away their ability to do their job to its fullest, YouTube will rob itself of an asset that is adept at making them the money.
3. It would really punish the mid-level creators AND all of us
We’ve mentioned the dangers of MCNs not helping the smaller channels — but if YouTube decided to pull a “Maker” and not accept brand deals that are less than a hundred thousand dollars, a lot of content creators that are small or mid-level are going to be cut out.
YouTube excels because they create an environment for creators to thrive. When you strip the creators of their ability to make what money they can, they simply aren’t able to be as creative. Creativity comes from having the time to think and use one’s imagination in a non-stressed environment. If those talents have to choose between a job that feeds their family and making potentially free YouTube vids, the job likely wins. And then we, the people, lose out on amazing content like Ed Bassmaster’s terrific involvement with Pine-Sol and the funny stuff that combination yielded:
YouTube likely doesn’t have the manpower to handle all the potential advertising queries, so they’d likely just build an algorithm based on CPMs and the amount the brand is offering. Essentially, the advertiser would come to YouTube with their proposed budget, and the algorithm would spit out a list of creators who could accommodate said budget. However, anyone above or below said budget would be completely cut out of the conversation without ever knowing the deal was on the table.
We wonder if we can find a link to ALL the stories we’ve done about YouTube algorithms misfiring and screwing up. Don’t get us wrong, YouTube is great and mostly does a great job, but when an algorithm inadvertently doesn’t notice a brand opportunity, thousands of dollars that could go to a creator who relies on that potential money is lost. Or because it is basically a math problem put into motion that is computing potential deals and/or who to award those deals to, you lose out on the human factor that goes into correct monies being determined and the even simpler question of want.
Not to mention those YouTubers who WANT to be associated with a product would lose out too. So would any brand who wants to work with a specific personality. If YouTube controls that, it doesn’t matter what you want. A good “for instance” here would be how vegan channels frequently have advertisements for meat products attached, simply because an algorithm recognized “food” as a component of those channels. When YouTubers manage their own deals, the opportunities don’t get lost in the jumble.
5. Brands rely on YouTubers too
If you step back from the YouTuber-specific implications, you can see that a lot of smaller and local brands rely on their ability to gain traffic through YouTuber involvement. Sure, the bigger brands can afford to play ball and pony up the cash, but what are the ramifications of someone like the Vlogbrothers advertising their DFTBA record label suddenly having to give YouTube money? What is considered advertising? Those issues become contentious talking points. At what point will YouTubers have to pay to mention their own merchandise?
These are just a few of the major direct implications. Really, the offshoots of a policy like this could rattle several industries and isolate even some major creators. For now, it’s just speculation — but speculation has a way of finding roots into reality. If you’re a creator, take note of how the industry is changing; it really can mean your career.
And share this post so other creators can join the discussion.