YouTube has constantly been at odds with the recorded music industry for its meager payouts, and now it’s found a way to even cut the payout on some of its biggest content creators in areas other than music as well. The video service recently started using artificial intelligence tools to flag offensive videos on the platform because many prime advertisers have curbed their spending over ads that where shown against offensive, hateful or violent content. The results haven’t been pretty, at least from the content creator’s standpoint.
The problem is that many of the video content creators and the platform’s biggest stars use colorful but harmless language that their fans don’t find offensive at all, but the new ad policies means that there are fewer ads played against their content, hence lower revenue.
Some big time YouTube celebs with millions of followers suddenly saw their income drop anywhere from 30 to 85% when the new policies went into effect in March. While revenue tends to ebb and flow with the seasons, the drop-off for many was significant.
Now the good part is the algorithm has since been tweaked so content creators have seen some of their revenue come back, but it’s still an issue for many who depend on that income (I realize the irony of that statement for artists and bands who are having a difficult time making a couple of bucks on the platform).
That said, there are still flaws in the AI that powers the policy. YouTube will automatically flag videos, titles and thumbnails that feature graphic, edgy or sensitive imagery and text, but this is a problem for gamers especially, but also those talking about news or social issues.
The big problem here is that Google (who owns YouTube) and even Facebook have refused to allow third-party content verification on their platforms, and so they haven’t been held to account in the same way as traditional media.
Undoubtedly most of this will be fixed as we go along, but it’s a reminder that online income that comes primarily through advertising involves a lot of factors in how you get paid, not the least is whether a platforms AI considers your content appropriate for advertisers. If you’re trying to make money by posting online, remember that the type of content you post may have negative financial consequences.