Previous: Framing
Next: Pokemon, Reviewed by a Dad Who Knows Nothing about Pokemon



View count:730,268
Last sync:2023-05-12 21:45
Am I concerned? Absolutely. Watching revenue tank in early April was terrifying, but it also got us thinking about lots of other ways to support this content which I am excited about.

YouTube has created a smoother (still rocky) path for independent creators to start making revenue, but the automatically sold advertisements have always been a the kind of prices that only very large channels can make significant revenue (we are lucky enough to run some of those.)

We need more systems and better systems to help independent creators make good stuff on the internet, and spending actual money (rather than spending time and attention watching ads) is vital to that. So, thank you to everyone who has ever bought merchandise or supported one of our projects on Patreon. Of course, we know that not all people can afford to do that, but the fact that some can make it so we can make these things for everyone.

Here is a great video about how YouTube's ad selling mechanisms work from CGP Grey:

And if you want to learn more about the Internet Creators Guild:

And here is the podcast I host talking with creators about their strategy and goals and etc:

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
John's twitter -
John's tumblr -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Good morning, John. So you know how I'm not really a huge fan of, like, the institution of advertising, but then I also built an entire business on advertising revenue, so that we can make things like Scishow and Crash Course and all the other cool stuff that we do. 

So that was a weird decision for me. It's actually not, because YouTube provides two things that really nobody else does. One: A truly massive audience that if you create quality content and/or have a strategy that matches well with what YouTube wants, YouTube might push towards your content. And Two: A system to turn those views... into dollars. Real life money.

So until there's somebody else who is doing those two things better than YouTube is, no one will ever leave YouTube. Like, Facebook is just doing one of those things, and people are posting their content like crazy. YouTube has been sharing revenue with content creators for ten years, during which time Facebook has just been like, 'Meh'. 

So this has created an amazing ecosystem of creative people doing cool things on this platform. who can make money, (you know, maybe not a ton) but without a lot of headache you know?

Here's the crazy thing about YouTube advertising, right? Every ad that plays on a YouTube video, that person is getting paid like ten times less than if that ad played on TV. And for every minute of content watched, there's like five times fewer ads. So the average YouTube channel gets, like, fifty times less revenue than the average TV channel per minute of viewership. 

Why? Why are my eyeballs worth ten times more when I'm watching TV that when I'm watching YouTube? There are the same eyeballs, I promise. There has to be a point, at which, like your audience is being valued so low by these people that you're just, like, "No!". 

Here's the big secret about YouTube ads: They're YouTube's whole business, and it's a big business. It's billions of dollars. But it's precarious. Ads are just worth less on the internet. People don't like them, people skip them, they block them, they get frustrated by them, and while my eyeballs, for whatever reason, seem to be worth less on the internet, my time is worth more. I'm busy! This is not couch time, this is active time!

So this weird situation is where we're at when, a few weeks ago, uh, some inflammatory articles are posted about how major brands are being advertised on top of... very vile YouTube videos. A bunch of advertisers, fearing backlash, remove their ads entirely from YouTube, and during this period, every YouTuber saw a decrease in revenue. Also, Google's valuation dropped by, like, seven hundred and fifty million dollars in a day. NO BIG! IT'S FINE!

Now, YouTube has a few different systems that put content into buckets. They have a manual bucket that's like hand-picked channels, like Crash Course, where they can say, 'This is good! Advertisers, it's safe, go here, it's very expensive.' And then they have an algorithmic bucket that's, like, 'No ads on any of this stuff, ever, because it's about marijuana smoking, or... whatever.' And then there's a middle area, where it's confusing and no one knows how it works at all. 

But what we do know is, after this hullabaloo, all of the algorithms got tightened. So while some channels have rebounded, a lot of channels went down and went down further, as they were put into buckets which weren't getting as many ads. This has really squeezed creators who are making content that's maybe good, but not like super-happy-family-fun-time stuff. And again, it's like, "Is this worth it?"

Is this relationship between content and brands, that was designed, by the way, for radio, is it an useless holdover from another century? And if so, are we gonna have to find other ways to turn the value that we create into value that we can spend? And if so, will advertisers lose their ability to reach people who are under the age of sixty five? And if so, is that really a bad thing because do we really need advertisers telling us how to spend our money? I feel like- I feel like I could figure that out on my own. 

If we're forced to, if the value proposition breaks, we will find, and we kind of already have started to do this, new ways to support great content on the internet. Subscription services, like Rooster Teeth's "First," YouTube Red, Patreon, really great and productive relationships, like, one-on-one relationships between creators and brands that communities like, as this continues to happen, YouTube and advertisers are gonna have to be careful because eventually, they're gonna need our eyeballs more than we need their pennies. 

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.

If you are a creator who makes stuff on the internet, the Internet Creator's Guild is a thing that is designed to advocate for people like you. Anf if you're interested in finding out more about that, there's some links in the description.