YouTube is going through some growing pains as it tries to balance its history as one of the most important platforms to the democratization of content creation and its current status as a highly valued partner for brands and advertisers. The latter wants some insulation from the behaviors of the former — especially after some brands found they were ending up next to videos featuring people making sympathetic jokes about Nazis. In response to those concerns, YouTube has created a new monetization status that indicates a certain video is eligible for advertising but it is also “not suitable for all advertisers.” This has started to appear next to almost any video featuring a modern shooter game (like Call of Duty or Battlefield 1), and sometimes it appears for no obvious reason at all. This has the vast community of gaming YouTube creators anxious and confused, and that prompted the video site to speak up with a forum post addressing user fears.
In the post, YouTube Gaming boss Ryan “Fwiz” Wyatt wrote that the company understands the problems, and it has already made some steps to improve the process.
“In the last few months we spent time addressing concerns from advertisers around where their ads are placed,” wrote Fwiz. “With new controls and guidelines implemented, many creators have seen their earnings return to normal as advertisers resumed their campaigns. As a part of these recent changes, however, some videos were classified as not suitable for all advertisers, limiting the number of ads served on those videos. There was also no ability to directly appeal in Video Manager. So on August 7th, we announced that we’ve expanded the ability for creators to appeal videos that have been receiving fewer ads. ”
Fwiz wrote that if see the yellow icon, you should appeal.
“With 400 hours of video uploaded every single minute, we rely on machine learning to evaluate content across the platform,” Fwiz explained. “But no system is perfect. When you appeal, our reviewers take a look and their decisions help our systems get smarter over time.”
YouTube is also reiterating that violent video games on their own are typically not enough to permanently brand a piece of content with the yellow monetization emblem. The company previously provided guidelines that explain only videos that are explicitly about gratuitous violence or over-the-top profanity should earn that tag. So, again, if you’re just uploading a match of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, you should feel ready to appeal if YouTube’s system blocks most ads.
Appealing will also help YouTube’s machine-learning algorithms get better at only flagging truly inappropriate videos in the future, so it could get the service to a point where you don’t have to worry about going through this hassle in the future. But as of today, YouTube’s A.I. moderators are costing creators money. Valve News Network, a YouTube channel that covers all things related to Valve Software, posted a video yesterday about the Half-Life 3 prototype map. The video has more than 400,000 views as of the time of this posting … and it was marked as “Not suitable for all advertisers.” Tyler McVicker, the person responsible for the Valve News Network, vented on Twitter that he doesn’t understand why it was marked as inappropriate.
McVicker is also not happy with Fwiz’s response.
“It doesn’t fix any of the issues I have or bring up,” McVicker explained in a note to GamesBeat. “I wasn’t emailed when [YouTube] flagged it. I don’t know why it was flagged, specifically. And I have lost over 400,000 views of revenue, which is the largest I would have ever earned in my career.”
McVicker has requested a review of his video, but he’ll have already missed out on the bulk of his revenue by then. And he likely still won’t know what triggered the bots so that he can avoid doing something similar in the future. It appears YouTube still has problems to solve.
For now, however, YouTube wants to talk about other ways for creators to get paid for their work.
“We’re very focused on creating more ways for gamers — and creators of all kinds — to earn money on YouTube,” said Fwiz. “That’s why we acquired FameBit to help creators partner with brands and why we’re experimenting with sponsorships in the YouTube Gaming app. We even launched Super Chat so that your biggest fans can give you money for serving up chicken dinners while live streaming PUBG.”
But for most YouTube affiliates, none of that could replace revenue sharing from advertising, and the company acknowledged that.
“In all seriousness, we have teams of partner managers, engineers, and product managers, not to mention one of the biggest salesforces around, whose entire job is to make sure that creators — including gamers — find success on our platform by monetizing videos with advertisements,” said Fwiz. “The gaming community has been a central part of YouTube’s success from the very beginning. With hundreds of millions of fans watching hundreds of billions of minutes of gaming videos every month, gaming has never been bigger on YouTube than it is today. We’re proud to be the home of gaming and know that the community will continue to play an important role in YouTube’s future.”