YouTube announced that it took in $28.8 billion from ad revenue last year, which was up a whopping 32% over the year before. The big question is, how much of that actually makes it into the pocketbooks of creators like artists, bands and songwriters?
What Actually Is Monetized
If you look at the deal that YouTube strikes with every creator that chooses to monetize their videos, YouTube takes 45% of every ad dollar that’s generated with a monetized creator. “Monetized creator” is a key phrase here, because the platform can now place ads on your videos whether you want them to or not. If you qualify to become a YouTube Partner, then you can choose to monetize your videos and actually get your 55% royalty.
What you’ll see in some news stories is that YouTube shared more than $15 billion with creators, and that’s potentially true if it’s a true 55/45% split. But how many of the videos that generated income where not monetized by the creator that YouTube profited from? That’s unknown.
YouTube really has a massive TikTok problem though, as more young creators have taken to the platform and are attracted to the fact that the videos can be relatively short and still get traction. On YouTube, even if your video is marked for monetization, the viewer still has to watch a full 30 seconds before it counts as a view and you get paid. Meanwhile, if an ad played at the beginning of the video but the viewer only watched 10 seconds, YouTube takes the ad revenue for that without having to share any of it.
The platform’s payouts are notoriously stingy, something that’s bugged creators almost from the beginning. There are various factors at play that makes no two views the same, like the quality of the advertiser (Gucci is going to pay more that Target, for instance), the time of year the ad runs (a holiday will pay more than the dog days of summer), and the country that the view comes from, just to name a few.
As with anything involving big tech, huge numbers will be thrown around to make a platform seem more desirable for creators. Be aware that there are a lot of things going on out of sight that make all the difference in how much you’ll see in your pocketbook in the end.