Hey YouTube, Here’s Five Monetization Changes You Should Make for Content Creators

If you haven’t heard of the YouTube adpocolypse, you’re clearly stuck in the Negative Zone. For those not stuck in the Negative zone, it’s been quite tiresome, to say the least, YouTube’s reputation has been falling due to their lack of transparency among other reasons. Video after video has been demonetized with little to no explanation. The issue with YouTube is transparency. I’m not so deluded to think YouTube will hear my opinions, but I do have recommendations I think YouTube should implement to finally address the mistrust that is growing. This isn’t a commentary on the political or social controversies that YouTube is also under fire for, I’ll leave that to those with more knowledge to debate. I only want to address transparency issues and how YouTube can fix these problems.

Check out my video request of YouTube Here and Share


My channel is quite small, but that is irrelevant to this topic. I have over 15 years’ experience in Information Technology operations support. I understand what goes into providing a service that is reliable and trusted by the users who utilize those services. I also understand how quickly and devastating bad service and lack of transparency can be to a service. I see many of these mistakes being made by YouTube right now.
Over the last 12 months, I’ve had several videos demonetized, be it temporarily or permanently. I am hardly alone experiencing demonetization. This doesn’t have a big impact on me, since my channel is so small. For those with large channels, however, the loss of money while waiting for a manual review is becoming insurmountable for some. If you’re not familiar, YouTube has been tweaking their monetization algorithms, and adding a new monetization classification. The new classification includes a yellow icon which indicates your video is currently receiving limited or no ads, which means you might not be receiving advertisement revenues while in this state. This means your video is either considered not suitable for most viewers or it doesn’t meet the criteria for advertiser-friendly content. YouTube, however, doesn’t feel the need to inform you, or give you specific details of what’s in the video causing the issue.

It has become clear YouTube does not find it necessary to keep content creators informed. Instead, these demonetization actions just happen. The only way to know it happened is by scrolling through your content to see the monetization status to find those that have changed. Yes, there is a new view filtered to only show de-monetized content, but this is not enough.

I won’t explain the process to request a manual review in detail, but it’s a single step process where you click the manual review link, then wait and hope while you watch the critical first 48 hours of your video being publish just ticking away. Instead, let’s get into what I hope YouTube will do to address these transparency and trust complaints I and others have with the platform.

First, we need notifications. As a creator, I need to know as soon as my video monetization status changes. I used to get the copyright violation e-mails, but I’ve yet to get a notification when the monetization status changes. This shouldn’t be hard to implement, assuming the back-end software is written efficiently. Notifications can be as simple as an e-mail, an alert in the notifications, or a new dashboard widget displaying alerts. This change alone would provide an immense amount of transparency and give creators control of their channels. There have been numerous cases in which videos published years ago end up demonetized. Without a notification, a content creator must constantly check their content to ensure all videos are green. A simple notification would go a long way to increasing trust and transparency between creators and YouTube.

Second, content creators need details about these violations. Currently, we have the general definition of the status, nothing more. How about you, YouTube, give us what category our video matched which warranted it being flagged? Your algorithmic system clearly has this information or it couldn’t flag the videos; output that info into the notification you provide. This too, shouldn’t be that difficult to do. As a creator, it would be invaluable to know what to look for in my video so I can make a decision whether I want to modify my video or not. This information would give creators actionable information to decide whether a manual review is truly warranted or not. This can save both the content creator and YouTube time and money.

Third, give us the timestamp where the violation is. Assuming the processing is automated and algorithmic, YouTube should be able to store the timestamp and include this information in the notification provided. I shouldn’t have to explain why this information is useful, but clearly, I do. Finding the potential violation to determine if it’s legitimate. Right now, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack, except you don’t know if it’s a needle a joke, a political reference, or some other arbitrary thing. We have no idea what we’re looking for, or where it is in the video. Your software is already scanning through the video, storing the timestamp when a match is found should not be out of reach technologically.

Fourth, don’t assess strikes against channels for content that was once compliant and now is not. YouTube, you have every right to change your policies and re-certify older content to the new rules, but it is entirely unfair, and I would claim un-ethical, to assess a channel strike after a video had originally been compliant. You’re punishing channels for having content on your platform that no longer follows your guidelines.

Fifth, and likely the most difficult, is that YouTube provide more support options for creators of all sizes. I think a tiered system in which major channel creators would have a more direct and faster access to support services; while the smaller channels. might have to wait longer but if it’s clearly defined and easy to submit a support request and get a response, that would tone down the unrest considerably. As a creator, when you’ve worked on a video for a month all to find the video is not monetized and you have no recourse but a link to click and hope, that just doesn’t set a precedent of trust in YouTube.

I’m not trying to complain, or disparage you, YouTube. I just want you to treat content creators with a little more respect. When there are communication and transparency issues like this I see it as a culture of arrogance driving a wedge between YouTube and content creators. Trust can be lost very quickly and it’s so hard to gain it back. YouTube, you’ve been working to improve, I’ve seen those attempts through your various surveys you’ve put out over the last year. I applaud the efforts, but for how large you are, a lot of us expect so much more. We expect to see innovation. Of all the companies to solve this growing problem, it should be YouTube that can solve it. Perhaps the solution isn’t going to come from your own staff, perhaps the solutions will come from your creators. Listen to your content creators. Please, listen to us.

Winner winner, Chicken Dinner!

Iconic SummerPepsiCo has just rolled out yet another promotional campaign  for their Pepsi and Mountain Dew product lines. They are calling it, “Iconic Summer” and you can win prizes up to tickets to the Super Bowl or World Series etc. Let me preface this with a statement that I don’t think these promotional campaigns are bad, but here is my beef with them.

I hope there is nobody on the face of the planet older than, let’s say 13, (sorry 12 and unders) that believes these random codes found under the caps of our favorite soft drinks (if you drink Pepsi or Mountain Dew) are actually going to give us a truly fair shot like the “look under the cap” games of yesteryear used to. Remember the days when you could open a bottle of soda and find out instantly you won another soda. You could then take that cap to your local soda pop stop and redeem that cap for an ice cold refreshing soda? I remember that, it was awesome. They used to do it with the 12oz pop cans too. Ah… those were the days.

The Illusion of random chances to win is just that, an illusion.

Enter Code

Now, I have to log into a website and enter a 10 digit code and then wait for the site to tell me what prize I’ve gotten no closer to winning. Don’t get me wrong, this is still slightly fun, until you realize, there is no randomness to this game anymore.

I’ve been playing for about a week so far and I’ve purchased quite a bit of Pepsi (not because of the game, but because I’m entirely addicted to the beverage and assume I will be replacing the last drop of my blood with syrup soon if I can) and I have quickly collected all of the required “Icons” needed except for 1 for each of the 5 Pepsi prize options. I’ve gotten 13 icons thus far. I have every single “common” icon as indicated below and zero rare icons. Ok, so that’s fine, but then when I ask myself, what are the odds of getting a rare icon and here is what you get below (See Official Rules).

Icon Rules

That’s right, I don’t get to know the odds. Based on their assertion, there is no way of knowing the odds. It used to be the odds were slapped right on the product. One in 12 wins. It was based on the number of products produced that were “specially marked” and thus they could determine that x number of products would be instant winners and x number would be large prize winners. Now, it’s based on the number of players and how they are seeded from start to finish. What does that even mean? With this information I’ve lost all trust that the codes mean anything until I register it and they determine, nope he hasn’t bought enough product yet so let’s give him another common icon until he’s bought the sufficient amount.

Luckily, I’m buying because I’m thirsty and apparently not health conscious (I buy Diet though *snark snark*) so I don’t feel as though I’m being duped because of the promotion, maybe I’m being duped because I’m not making healthy choices, but that’s a different post altogether.

So, long story short, COME ON!!! Give us back our instant win game caps and throw us a bone from time to time, or, at the very least, predetermine the icon each code will equate to before it goes out on the trucks and let us have a little feeling that we might be able to actually randomly win something.

I reserve the right to retract any and all negative thoughts in this post should I win tickets to the Super Bowl or the World Series and I will replace those comments with, “Neener-Neener.”

Stop Doing Everything For Me!

I love my Apple iPod Touch 64GB. I use it on a daily basis to listen to music, watch movies, surf the Internet, and even update my help desk ticket system at work.

I used to think I was going crazy when I’d listen to my music and I kept hearing the same songs over and over again. I have one playlist that I usually listen to called “All Music” and it contains all of my songs. Currently I have a small library of about 1,500 songs. When I choose the shuffle feature I expect that it would take a while to hear a song I’ve recently heard. This is not true with iTunes.

A shuffle feature is based on an algorithm programmers decide upon that chooses random songs to play. No algorithm can be entirely random so they write the algorithm to seem “random” to the user. Apple’s algorithm also introduces the number of times a song is listened to and how often a song gets skipped as to when and how often a song will get played. New music added seems to also get moved towards the top of the “random” list as well.

I don’t inherently have a problem with Apple creating a shuffle algorithm that puts your more listened to songs at the front of a shuffled playlist, but it would be nice to get some of the power back so I could choose a random shuffle that has nothing to do with how often I listen to a song entirely.

“Just get over it”… Right?

I thought the same until I started using my iPod while running. Nothing is more annoying than being in the middle of a 5 mile run and having to pull your iPod out to skip every other song because you’ve already heard those songs the last 5 times you went running. I can understand hearing the same songs over and over if you have a 100 song playlist, but over 1,500 songs in one playlist should ensure you won’t hear the same couple of songs every time you listen to your music. I swear my iPod thinks my favorite artists are Slipknot and Avril Lavigne.

At first I thought the shuffle was based on artists Apple was trying to market more until I did the research and learned how the shuffle algorithm was written. There is still that conspiracy theorist in me that thinks some artists get more play than others, but that’s a whole different blog entry.

All I ask Apple is to add an option somewhere in iTunes to choose what type of shuffle you want. I want more control of what my iPod does and less of Apple trying to do the thinking for me. It shouldn’t be too hard to add and Apple sends out so many iTunes updates that it shouldn’t take too long to get to those that want it.