Originally published Sept. 6 2016.
(KNOXVILLE, TN) — It was 3AM when my phone woke me up. A weird accent on the other end asked to speak to “Pheel.”
“This is Phil.”
It took me a while to adjust to the accent. He was calling from half-way around the world. The caller, a YouTuber who I’m not at liberty to name, was concerned over recent notifications he’d been receiving from YouTube severely limiting his content monetization — significantly cutting into his revenue.
“It’s like they’re censoring me.”
Turns out, it’s not just him.
The past few days, Twitter was awash with disgruntled YouTubers hashtagging #YouTubeIsOver and ranting about YouTube’s increased policing of their content. Though similar content has always been previously approved for monetization, suddenly, out of the blue, it violates their “advertiser-friendly content guidelines.”
Who decides what’s advertiser-friendly and what’s not? Apparently a group of people known only as, “The YouTube Team.”
“Thanks for submitting your video(s) for monetization. We didn’t approve your video(s) for monetization because the content in your video(s) or video details may not be advertiser-friendly.”
— The YouTube Team
What recourse does a YouTuber have? Practically none. They can request a review of the content to appeal the decision, but “review times may vary,” and we all know what that means — by the time they review it, the content is old news.
“YouTube reserves the right to make the final decision whether to monetize a video.”
We all know what that means, too — if you’re receiving this notice, the decision has already been made. Tough shit.
YouTube is a private platform. They make the rules, and they get to enforce them however they want.
Is YouTube selling out to advertisers?
Yes and no.
Yes they’re selling out, because their video platform was built on submissions of all types — with some necessary exceptions for nudity, hate speech, etc., YouTubers and content creators have been able to freely express themselves since Day One.
YouTube didn’t build YouTube.
Google didn’t build YouTube.
Content creators — and the repeat viewers they brought — built it.
There was a time when YouTube was all about content.
Today, in light of these recent events, it’s become obvious, it’s now all aboutmoney.
What was once a video platform is now a medium and it was only a matter of time as advertisers — and their agencies — have increasingly embraced digital media as the future of advertising.
And just like with all the other media — newspapers, magazines, TV — advertisers (and their agencies) like to exert their influence…
A year ago, an advertiser would have given their left leg to be on ANY high-trafficked YouTube channel. THEY worked for the YouTuber. Today, however, marks the day they’ve the tables, and the YouTuber now works for them.
YouTube has no choice but to give in to THEM, because, again, it’s all about the money.
But no, they’re NOT selling out, because they sold out years ago — it’s just taken this long for it to catch up.
Almost exactly ten years ago (October 9, 2006), Google bought YouTube for $1.65 Billion. They didn’t buy it so YouTubers could make money, they bought it as an investment so THEY could make money.
And on the backs and hard work of YouTubers and other content creators, they grew it into a medium for digital advertising — to attract the Big Money advertisers. (You know, the ones with influence.)
It’s no secret YouTube (and Google) makes a shitload of money off YouTube ads. They’re not even modest about it. They pay YouTubers less than half what THEY earn on those ads, and in the grand scheme of things, that “less-than-half” they’re paying the YouTuber isn’t worth losing that Big Money advertiser. It doesn’t matter if that YouTuber is generating $1 Million a month in revenue for YouTube, they’re expendable. Those ads can just as easily be spread across a billion other YouTube channels and videos.
But that Big Money advertiser cannot be replaced so easily.
And there’s usually a contract.
And they have to play by the advertisers’ rules, or THEY don’t get paid.
So what is the YouTuber to do?
For more than five years now, I’ve been telling you…
- EXPAND and MAXIMIZE — don’t put all your eggs in the YouTube basket.
- You’re ALREADY producing the content, it only makes sense to distribute it everywhere you can.
- Explore other opportunities, other platforms like Connected TV and Roku.
I’m now working on a new Roku TV channel for that YouTuber who called me — and after our talk, he’s EXCITED.
Roku is the #1, fastest-growing connected television platform. With over 20 million viewers and growing, it commands about 1/2 the connected TV device market — though I would argue it commands over 2/3 the relevantconnected TV device market. Content on Roku is presented via “channels” just like on YouTube, but are much easier to find. It’s simply not as saturated.
The beauty of Roku is it’s an OPEN PLATFORM. Yes, there are somerestrictions or content guidelines to the public side of Roku — again, nudity, hate speech, etc. — but there’s also the private side where you can do pretty much anything you want.
Most of the YouTubers and content creators currently monetized on YouTube qualify for the public side — and Roku doesn’t “censor” beyond their content guidelines.
Furthermore, Roku doesn’t earn money on your content — unless you run Roku’s ads, but you’re not required to — therefore has NO SAY in the content you produce and distribute on their public platform, so long as it meets their content guidelines, which are pretty much inalienable across all video platforms everywhere — no hate, no nudity, etc.
And because Roku doesn’t earn money it, they can exert no influence on it.
But as a content creator or YouTuber how do I make money on Roku?
The same way they do on YouTube — through advertisements. Though on Roku, the ads aren’t placed OVER your content, but rather can be placed before, during, and/or after your content. You have full control over where and when. (Of course if you want to make money, you’ll want them before and/or during, not after.)
But there aren’t as many viewers on Roku as there are on YouTube, how can I possibly earn?
Granted, YouTube owns digital video, but I’m not here to tell you to STOP distributing your content via YouTube, I’m simply telling you to expand to Roku to MAXIMIZE what you’re earning on content you’re already producing.
Typically, ads on Roku can run the gamut from $5 to $15CPM — that’s anywhere from twice as much to five or six times what YouTube pays. You’re earning more per viewer.
You can also adjust the frequency of ads, and the number of ads that show per ad break.
All of this can add up to a significant monthly revenue. If you’re earning $1 million a month on YouTube, no, you probably won’t earn $1 million a month on Roku. I don’t know of anyone who does (yet), but as this platform grows, someone will. Just like YouTube, someone will inevitably be the biggest earner, someone will inevitably be the biggest channel, etc. — it’s growing and those opportunities — and benchmarks — are still there for the taking.
TIME TO MAKE YOUR MARK.
Currently, a Roku channel may only serve to compliment your existing YouTube channel — bringing your content to the big screen, into the living room, or simply serving as a way to monetize that “censored” content YouTube won’t monetize for you — but as more and more YouTubers and content creators climb on-board, the platform will continue to grow, and ultimately EXPLODE! Who knows, a year from now, Roku may be your primary source of revenue…
Better days are ahead.
This is an opportunity that’s there for the taking.
You already have everything you need to do it.
Whether you started producing content specifically to earn money with YouTube, or simply discovered YouTube as a way to monetize the content you produce, I’m here to tell you there’s more money out there for you —and with less restrictions — on Roku.
EXPAND and MAXIMIZE.
For years, I’ve predicted there will one day be a mass exodus from the web-based video platforms to Connected TV systems. YouTube’s recent actions are the spark that will ignite the flame that will fuel this new revolution in Television.
Already, some of the biggest names on YouTube are expanding to Roku. NOW IS THE TIME — and it costs you nothing more than a phone call, just like the one I received the other day at 3AM. (But please, stick to business hours if you can.)
So if you are a content creator or YouTuber with more than 50,000 subscribers and/or more than $1,000 a month in YouTube revenue, I implore you tocontact me right away. Help me, help you, and together let’s OWN this new, fastest-growing Connected TV platform called Roku.
Roku viewers are STARVING for fresh, new and great content — and I already have the advertisers READY TO GO.
And I promise you, there will be no monetization notices, no restrictions, no censoring of your content. You will be FREE to do what you do best — and I will do what I do best and make money for all of us.
Not only that, there are MORE monetization opportunities available to you via Roku and Connected TV than YouTubeincluding:
- Multiple streaming ad networks (not just one)
- Per Inquiry Advertising (paid per lead, order, inquiry, etc.)
- Sponsorships (major branding)
- Direct Ad Sales (you can’t do that on YouTube)
- Subscription and premium content (bonus!)
- Additional paid distribution and licensing opportunities
I’ve developed and produced some of the top channels on Connected TV, including Raw Country, Classic Rock TV, Where’s the 80’s, The Movie Trailer Channel, Whisky a Go Go, Oscar de la Hoya’s Ring TV — and yes, I even put Paula Deen back on TV.
I want to put you there, too.
Phil Autelitano is founder/CEO of Mediarazzi. We develop and produce TV channels for connected TV platforms including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Opera Software-based TV systems. We have developed and produced some of the top channels on Connected TV including the all-new Paula Deen Channel and Oscar de la Hoya’s Ring TV. www.mediarazzi.com