A Tale of Two Videos
Started in 2010, the YouTube Rewind used to be a celebration of the community featuring all the biggest content creators and the videos and moments that defined the year. Over the years, what used to be awaited by so many has devolved into a corporate cringe-fest completely disconnected from the YouTube community culminating with the Rewind 2018 becoming the most disliked video of all time on the platform.
The Most DISLIKED YouTube Video (music videos included)
How can a video featuring so many beloved creators be so disliked? It’s quite simple; with YouTube abandoning the creators that made the platform popular and promoting celebrities and late-night show hosts who neither represent nor engage with the YouTube community, there is nothing left to like for YouTube’s audience. Why was Ninja, a Fortnite streamer, who’s platform of choice is Twitch, a YouTube competitor, highlighted on the Rewind? Where was YouTube’s most subscribed content creator, Felix Kjellberg, who boasts 80 million subscribers?
The Most LIKED YouTube Video (music videos excluded)
While YouTube’a Rewind 2018 was becoming the most disliked video of all time, PewDiePie in collaborations with three other YouTubers produced a Rewind 2018 that is the most liked video of all time. It really isn’t surprising that the most beloved creators and staples of the YouTube community understand what is compelling to the YouTube’s audience. YouTube’s Rewind became the embodiment of the disconnection between YouTube’s corporate governance and the billions of YouTube’s users.
Omitting the Defining Moments of the Year
YouTube’s Rewind 2018 was made to be a commercial that can be shown to advertisers used to homogenized and non-offensive network television. By doing so, YouTube’s show its lack of confidence in its creators and completely avoided some landmarks of the year 2018 on YouTube; events that engage billions of people and generated millions of revenue all this without YouTube gaining anything from it.
KSI vs Logan Paul
The pay-per-view fight was labelled “The Biggest Internet Event in History” and it was: according to Wikipedia, it was the largest non-professional boxing fight of all time, as well as the fifth largest pay-per-view event in boxing history; and this is not even taking into account the millions of people who watched it via illegal streams. It is estimated that each creator generated over $40 million in revenue from ticket sales, online views, sponsorship deals, and merchandise sales.
The Mind of Jake Paul
Shane Dawson’s documentary series about Jake Paul, Logan Paul’s brother, is a landmark in YouTube’s history: premiering at 22.2 million viewers and averaging over 18 million viewers over its run, The Mind of Jake Paul’s premiere had more viewers than the most viewed tv show in the United States according to Nielsen, Roseanne (ABC), and average as many viewers as the second and third most viewed tv shows, The Big Bang Theory (CBS) and NFL Sunday Night Football (NBC).
PewDiePie vs T-Series
When the Indian media giant T-Series crash landed onto YouTube, it quickly became one of the biggest channel on the platform, this is when the YouTube community rallied as a whole to support one individual, YouTube’s most subscribed content creator, PewDiePie; from other YouTubers making videos demanding their fans to subscribe to the Swedish comedian to hackers using printers, faxes, chromecasts, and public billboard; everyone did their part so PewDiePie would finish 2018 as the most-subscribed YouTube channel.
“YouTube’s biggest mistake is trying to sell advertising as if the platform and its audience was traditional television broadcasting instead of highlighting that its creators have an audience far larger than traditional broadcaster and that this audience is engaged with the platform because of how different its creators are.”
The Original Sin: Turning Their Back On Their Creators
The biggest mistake every made by YouTube is to abandon its own self-made creators and privilege legacy-media personalities who have neither the following nor the resonance with the online community.
The Trending Page Isn’t About Promoting Mainstream Celebrities Not Popular Videos
While Shane’s groundbreaking docu-drama was captivating audiences on par with the highest watched television shows and generating millions of comments and conversations, none of the episodes were featured on YouTube’s trending page in its place the top trending video selected by YouTube was Will Smith’s bungee jump which garnered a tenth of the Mind of Jake Paul’s episode out at the same time.
Raising Fund for Charity After a Tragedy Will Get You Demonetized Unless You’re a TV Host
When longtime content creator, Casey Neistat, decided to give all the revenue from the monetization of his video about the Las Vegas shooting to a charity, YouTube demonited his video claiming that videos talking about mass-shootings were not advertiser-friendly; meanwhile Jimmy Kimmel’s video about the same tragedy was fully loaded with pre-roll, mid-rolls, and post-roll. The difference in treatment disheartened a lot content creators.
When Legacy Media Is Slandering You, Don’t Count On YouTube to Stand by Your Side
When PewDiePie was slander was legacy-media outlets, YouTube failed to recognize that the motivation behind these frivolous attacks was to get to the advertisers which have abandoned print media in favor of online platforms like YouTube. When these attacks only strengthen and grew the audience of the Swede, the company not standing by one of its top creators, showed to advertisers its lack of confidence in its most-subscribed talents.
“YouTubers call themselves content creators because all they care about is content; legacy media calls them influencers because the only thing they care about is influence.”
A Broken Content ID System Easily Manipulated And Abused by Copyright Trolls
Another huge show of weakness from YouTube is its Content ID system which is supposed to protect content and rights owner from thievery but is used mostly by copyright trolls and people wanting to censor criticism. It is a system in which a content creator is presumed guilty before proven innocent and in which it is very easy for someone to abuse the system with no punishment to do so.
Just Dance Trailer
One example that highlights how broken YouTube’s Content ID system is, is the case of Ubisoft’s game Just Dance which trailer a few years back was copyright-striked for featuring songs which Ubisoft have paid licensing fees to use in the game!
I’m So In Love With You
Another ridiculous situation was when ABS Entertainment claimed the video published by the White House featuring the President of the USA, Barack Obama, singing a few lines from Let Stay Together to his wife under the pretext that they own the rights to Al Green’s soul classic.
TheFatRat’s Own Song
But the cream of the crop of the Content ID madness was when German record producer and musician, Christian Friedrich Johannes Büttner, also known as TheFatRat, had his own song claimed by a third-party entity with no connection with him or his label and enjoyed the revenue from monetizing the video they falsely claimed with no repercussion whatsoever.
Not Understanding Their Own Platform & Really Wanting to Be Television
Wherever YouTube has the opportunity to humanly curate or influence something as opposed to an algorithm-driven decision, the corporate governance chooses to put aside its own creators no matter how successful they are on their own and give many advantages to traditional media properties who do not understand how the platform works, do not want to learn what makes the platform successful and will never replicate the success they’ve had in traditional broadcasting. Not only YouTube is giving an advantage to this outlets which are in direct competition when it comes to generating ad revenue but they also use them as examples to try to attract advertisers. Not understanding that YouTube is a different medium with a different audience with untapped advertising possibilities.
Corporate Media Outlets
YouTube’s recommendations are too often used to promote private media groups with an already established online presence outside of the platform as opposed to talents indigenous to YouTube. Despite Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and the likes being given extra exposure from YouTube, their view numbers are still really low compared to some of the productions from homegrown content creators with no help from the platform itself.
Late-Night Talk Show Hosts
YouTube’s insistence on promoting late night talk show hosts clearly shows how they don’t know who their audience is and it is at the heart of their struggle with advertisers: the vast majority of tv viewers who watches late night talk show is 45 and up when the vast majority of YouTube users are under 45. The 18-44 demographics that are no longer reached by television and yet YouTube isn’t making any effort to appeal to advertisers targeting them.
Julia Roberts & Rich Evans
On this photo tv broadcaster, Ellen Degenerres, and tv viewers see Hollywood actress Julia Roberts dressed as the Showbiz Pizza Bear; YouTube users see a birthday photo of Rich Evans from Red Letter Media, one of YouTube’s most revered channel when it comes to Cinema. YouTube made no effort to capitalize on the improbability of this situation existing.
When Being Advertising-Friendly Is About Fake Diversity & Real Abuse
YouTube demonetized videos which revolves around negative events happening around the world, so a content creator who wishes to talk about suicide, sexuality, wars, school shootings or feature videos of police brutality will be punished for doing so and can only be monetized if talking about consensual happy stories with the ideal demo being children. All this being supervised by an algorithm with no real understanding of subtleties and fostering an environment that can financially reward harmful and abusive content.
Suicide Prevention Rhymes with Demonetization
There’s a cognitive dissonance between YouTube producing punctual campaigns about mental health while deeming topics related to mental health as not advertiser-friendly. There are a never-ending steam of videos talking about depression, eating disorder, and suicide prevention that are demonitzed because YouTube doesn’t make a distinction between a video showing how to commit suicide and one trying to help people thinking about it.
YouTube Loves LGBTQ But Their Content is Not Advertiser Friendly
YouTube prides itself as a progressive and LGBTQ-friendly platform yet many videos talking about LGBTQ issues are demontized. It’s a quite hypocritical stance to celebrate Pride Week or Month while punishing content creators for sharing their coming out stories or makers producing sexual education content.
Only Legacy Media News Stories are Monetized
CNN with its 5.5M subscribers has hundreds of monetized videos featuring violent content meanwhile Philip DeFranco with its 6.5M subscribers who has been producing a daily newscast on YouTube for the last decade has videos featuring the same content demonetized on an on-going basis.
Daddy O Five
What is totally acceptable and advertiser-friendly according to YouTube are pranks which many channels dedicated to the genre have been generated good revenue; the problem is when a line is being crossed and sexual assault or child abuse is being financially rewarded. If it wasn’t for content creators like Philip DeFranco and Nerd City, Child Protecting Services wouldn’t have rescued the two children abused by Mike Martin for his prank channel.
If LGBTQ content is often demonetized, a lot of content that isn’t in English remained monetized as neither the title, tags, or description contained words deemed unfriendly to advertisers. This is how mass executions from ISIS terrorists including the throwing of LGBTQ from rooftops not only remained on the platform for a very long time but many of these were monetized and featured ads run by YouTube’s system.
And as YouTube’s monetization engine is an algorithm prioritizing children content without human supervision the system has been abused and millions of videos containing themes inappropriate for children were monetized. These videos often featuring people or characters from Disney’s Frozen or Spiderman were containing violence, sexual situations, fetishes, drugs, alcohol, toilet humor, and dangerous or upsetting situations and activities
YouTube’s Salvation Will Be Its Community
Despite all the negative things mentioned about YouTube’s policies and direction, the platform still has an incredible potential that is untapped and it wouldn’t take much to change the tide. YouTube has a community of creators and users that are heavily engaged with the platform and that has a very in-depth knowledge of what works on the platform; listening to the feedback from the community and taking inspiration from its success stories can take YouTube to new heights.
Listen to the Community Feedback
Marques Brownlee has been on YouTube since he was a teenager in high school; he has become one of the most beloved and respected tech reviewer on the planet thanks to YouTube and has a very good understanding of the struggles of YouTube as a company. He’s not the only one; people like him should be the one advising the management on how to improve the platform.
Foster an Environment Where Content Creators Can Thrive
Anyone with a webcam can become a content creator; it’s never been easier; YouTube has an endless pool of very talented people that can garner massive audiences and it doesn’t cost them a dime to develop these talents; the only thing they have to do is support the ones who made it and foster an environment where upcoming content creators can foster and grow without being punished for being creative..
Authenticity is Why Content is Relevant to the Community
What makes YouTube so compelling is how authentic and raw some creators can be; this is why the platform’s relevance to its audience cannot be matched by television; YouTube is a platform where viewers can engage with a content creator and that bond has a strength that traditional broadcasting will never be able to emulate.
Embrace The Quirkiness
People love YouTube because it’s the one platform where users can seek content made by creatives have as silly and weird taste as they have; legacy media and broadcasting is not catering to them and YouTube as a platform is the only one who can harness these niche audiences but they need to be highlighted not ostracized.
Be Proud of What the Community Has Accomplished
There are a myriad of feel good stories with happy endings that started thanks YouTube and its community; harnessing the appeal of the good content creators and their subscribers have done is poised to bring advertisers on the platform; but these stories need to be shared by YouTube corporate governance.
Advertisers Are Getting It
Trust advertisers! The big advertisers that are scared of the platform because of the manufactured controversies would stay and spend more if YouTube was standing by its creators; plenty of advertisers who understand the value of a content creator’s audience are spending a pretty penny to talk to them; confidence is the name of the game.