After a tumultuous 2017, YouTube is making yet another change to its guidelines surrounding channel monetization and advertiser approval. In posts to its Advertiser and Creator blogs, YouTube details how it's changing the threshold for monetization through its YouTube Partner Program (YPP), from 10,000 lifetime views to 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months. That means that small creators who already passed the previous 10,000 lifetime view milestone, but not the new goals, will be removed from the YouTube Partner Program starting February 20 and unable to monetize their videos in that manner,
As of yesterday, any channels that newly apply for YPP will have to pass this new threshold of success in order to monetize videos. On its Creators blog, YouTube explains the new required milestones "will allow us to significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors). These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone."
The company made a point of noting the types of channels that will be affected by the new rules. "Though these changes will affect a significant number of channels, 99 percent of those affected were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90 percent earning less than $2.50 in the last month. Any of the channels who no longer meet this threshold will be paid what they’ve already earned based on our AdSense policies."
Once a creator that applied to be part of YPP meets the new guidelines, the channel will be automatically evaluated "under strict criteria." YouTube will check if the channel complies with its Community Guidelines or if it has many instances of strikes, spam, or abuse flags. YouTube didn't lay out how it will evaluate all the channels looking to be part of YPP, but it will likely use a mix of the newly hired 10,000 human moderators and AI software already in place to monitor the website.
In addition, YouTube will also start to "manually review" all Google Preferred channels. This is Google's top-tier advertising program that many of the most popular YouTubers are a part of, allowing them to get paid more thanks to Google charging more for the ads that appear on those videos. "Ads will only run on videos that have been verified to meet our ad-friendly guidelines," YouTube writes on its Advertiser blog—meaning that the most popular creators will be under more scrutiny from YouTube, and it's possible that they will face more demonetization than they ever have before.
"One of YouTube’s core values is to provide anyone the opportunity to earn money from a thriving channel, and while our policies will evolve over time, our commitment to that value remains," YouTube notes in its Creator blog post.
While that may be true, the many changes implemented over the past year have made it much harder for new creators to succeed on YouTube (when success means making money). The new 1,000 subscriber/4,000 hours of watch time threshold will be difficult to reach for those who have only just started a channel, especially with mysteries of YouTube's algorithm dictating which videos get pushed in front of users' eyeballs.
The company arguably posted a more accurate sentiment on its Advertiser blog: "It’s been clear over the last few months that we need the right requirements and better signals to identify the channels that have earned the right to run ads."
Making money from advertisements run on your channel is a privilege and one that some big YouTubers have recently taken advantage of. YouTube dealt with the ad-pocalypse and the Pewdiepie controversy this time last year, and it recently pulled Logan Paul from Google Preferred after he posted a video of a dead body on his channel, one that has over 15 million subscribers.
While YouTube is still an open door for all budding creators, the website's prime goal is to make money off of advertisements. Google and YouTube have the right to set as many rules as they want for those who want to make money off of their videos since those videos, first and foremost, make money for Google. We likely won't see many changes affecting mid- and top-tier channels come February 20, but some small YouTubers who have yet to pass the new milestones will have to work even harder to make money again from the YouTube Partner Program.