YouTube is making its creator revenue-sharing program more restrictive and will start manually reviewing all videos in its Google Preferred premium advertising program — steps designed to assure advertisers that their messages won’t show up in disturbing or inappropriate videos.
Starting Tuesday, new creators applying to the YouTube Partner Program will need to have accumulated 4,000 hours of video watch-time for their videos within the past 12 months and have 1,000 subscribers to be eligible to earn advertising revenue from their channels.
Previously, the minimum threshold to participate in the revenue-sharing program was 10,000 views. But according to YouTube that didn’t provide enough information to weed out “bad actors” like spammers and impersonators.
In addition, YouTube said all videos in Google Preferred — representing the top 5% most-viewed channels — will be reviewed by human moderators before they’re monetized. YouTube also is rolling out a three-tiered “suitability system” for advertisers to select their level of comfort with content they’re buying ads against.
YouTube unveiled the new rules less than a week after YouTube cut business ties with top creator Logan Paul, including booting him from Google Preferred, after he posted a video showing the dead body of someone who had died by suicide.
But YouTube said the moves were not in response to Logan Paul’s controversial video, with a rep saying it has been making continuous updates to the platform in response to advertisers’ concerns. Last month, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that the platform would tighten up controls to “ensure ads are only running where they should.”
Over the course of 2017, YouTube was hit by advertiser boycotts over inappropriate content, including terrorism videos and content with young children targeted by pedophiles. As YouTube moved to to enforce stricter ad policies, some creators complained that their ad revenue fell; in response, YouTube has said it is working to improve the accuracy of videos deemed advertiser-unfriendly.
“These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone,” chief product officer Neal Mohan and chief business officer Robert Kyncl wrote in a blog post Tuesday.
YouTube will retroactively implement the partner program requirements for existing creators on Feb. 20. That means channels that fall below the thresholds of 4,000 hours of watch-time in the past year and have fewer than 1,000 subs will no longer be able to run ads on their videos.
According to YouTube, the new requirements shouldn’t have a big impact on creators who make a living on the platform. According to YouTube, 99% of existing creators affected by the changes have been making less than $100 per year; around 90% have earned less than $2.50 in the past month. YouTube also said the creators who will remain part of YPP represent more than 95% of YouTube’s reach for advertisers.
The changes to the YouTube Partner Program changes are designed to give YouTube more time and data to determine whether a channel adheres to the site’s community guidelines and policies, according to Mohan and Kyncl.
Still, YouTube’s brand-safety challenges will continue, the execs acknowledged.
“While this change will tackle the potential abuse of a large but disparate group of smaller channels, we also know that the bad action of a single, large channel can also have an impact on the community and how advertisers view YouTube,” Mohan and Kyncl wrote, adding that they will seek input from creator partners on how to address that issue.
For Google Preferred, channels included in the program will be “manually curated and ads will only run on videos that have been verified to meet our ad-friendly guidelines,” Paul Muret, YouTube’s VP of display, video and analytics, wrote in a separate blog post. YouTube expects to complete manual reviews of Google Preferred channels and videos by mid-February in the U.S. and by the end of March in all other markets.
YouTube also has begun working with third-party vendors to brand-safety reporting on YouTube. The platform is currently running a beta test with Integral Ad Science (IAS) and plans to launch a one with DoubleVerify soon. According to Muret, YouTube also is in talks about partnerships with OpenSlate, comScore and Moat.
YouTube also provided comments in support of the changes from advertisers and agency partners, including Dentsu Aegis Network, Clorox, and candy maker Mars.
“We are encouraged by the steps YouTube is taking to address brand safety on their platform, enabling brands to confidently leverage the power of this major video platform,” Nick Brien, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, said in a statement provided by YouTube.
Even with the advertiser issues YouTube experienced in 2017, the Google-owned video platform said the number of channels earning more than $100,000 annually was up over 40% year over year.