YouTube Squeezing Out Brand Sponsored Videos

Graphic Card overlays are now against YouTube's Ad Policy. Image credit - Digiday
Graphic Card overlays are now against YouTube’s Ad Policy. Image credit – Digiday

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

YouTube is once again flexing its draconian muscles by clamping down on creators who make brand sponsored videos outside of the Google’s traditional brand-related initiative. Maybe instead of worrying about that, the streaming giant should focus on not scuttling user subscriber bases by “accident.” Yes, two issues have popped up.

What’s this all about, in regards to the brand sponsored videos? Well, popular YouTube creators such as Dude Perfect, a team of trick shot artists, have gotten into making brand related videos to supplement what they make through Google AdSense and YouTube revenue sharing through brand partnerships. These videos include so-called “graphical title cards” from the brand sponsor (see above), and YouTube has decided that’s outside of their terms of service regarding their branding ad policies.

“(Content Creators) may include paid product placements or endorsements in your video content. All product placements will need to conform to our ad policies. You will also have to comply with any applicable laws and regulations (be sure to check because in some cases paid placements may not even be allowed). YouTube may disable videos with paid product placements and endorsements in certain cases.” – YouTube’s FAQ

Though YouTube’s support FAQ states that users may include paid product placements or endorsements in their video content, there is a limit to how it can be done. Product branding is only allowed if the sponsor pays Google directly to advertise on a creator’s channel.  In order to have a paid product placement or endorsement on a creator’s video, the creator must notify Google by checking a new box in the advanced settings tab called “content declaration” which states as such.

YouTube Paid Content Checkmark Option

Additionally, YouTube also says that it may run ads that counter any product placement in creator videos, which could create a conflict. In that case, YouTube flat out says “to protect the value we offer advertisers, in these situations YouTube may disable monetization and promotion on videos with such product placements.” Translation, they get paid for their ads, you don’t get paid for yours.

In addition, any graphic title card must be static and “co-branded” with the content creator logo. Should the title card be motion based, and are up on screen longer than 5 seconds, including video overlays of sponsor logos, then YouTube will block them. The only exception is at the end of the video, where end title cards can last up to the final 30 seconds of a video, and must be static only.

YouTube will also disallow any video pre-rolls, mid rolls, or post rolls, burned into your video. “YouTube’s Ads Policy does not allow you to burn advertiser-created and supplied Video Ads into your content or other commercial breaks where YouTube offers similar ad formats,” the FAQ states. Should a content creator wish to include such burned pre-rolls, they are advised to contact their Google Partner manager to act as the middle man.

“YouTube needs to do it, because in their minds they are losing money to product integration and sponsorships within video.” – Kontonis, Google’s ad unit

So why is YouTube meddling with content creators making a buck? Well, it could be due to Google’s new ad unit called Kontonis, which will create six-second product card pre-roll ads that will play before a video rolls. YouTube can take up to 45% of branded ads, so it amounts to a huge amount of money. Clearly, they don’t want  content creators to develop brand partnerships outside of this new service, and as such, are clamping down on a creator’s ability to build brand partnerships without them.

But even the head of Kontonis is lamenting over YouTube’s timing on the matter stating, “… to be putting all these constructs into place that take more revenue away from the networks that are helping build the quality of the content, audience and monetization opportunities is shortsighted.”

Of course, while YouTube is hard at work making sure that their content creators can’t make a dime without giving the apporpriate tribute to the video portal, they have been hard at work wiping out the subscriber bases of content creators. Yes, you heard that right. According to a report by ETC News, YouTube has been purging subscriber lists as part of a “routine maintenance.”

Up to 25% of all subscribers have disappeared. There was no warning given, and it affected thousands of content creators site wide, who have been working years to build their subscriber bases to a point where they regularly have excellent viewing numbers, and Google AdSense can help support their channels. YouTube says that the subscribers deleted have been dead user accounts, inactive for a period or time, or bot accounts that have been created by companies looking to boost a channel’s states by going around YouTube’s requirements.

I understand why YouTube would want to have a more accurate accounting of who is actually visiting sites and subscribing for ad revenue sharing purposes, but this is just another example of YouTube’s heavy hand pressing down on what CEO Susan Wojcicki called, “the life blood of YouTube,” their content creators. But when you start chasing the proverbial dollar, stuff like this begins to be more pattern than inadvertent. And that’s going to get content creators looking to take their content, and their audience elsewhere. Amazon, Vimeo or BitTorrent Now, perhaps?

Hat Tip – DigiDay

About doddle 16509 Articles
Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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