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John and I did a thing a couple months ago, and when people were like, "Wait, what is this?" we were quiet because we got scared when we didn't really know what it was because we hadn't thought of it the way some people were seeing it.

After some time thinking about it, here's this.

Also, if you want to watch Kedi and have YouTube Red, it's here:
Alright, hey. So about a month ago, John and I did a deal with YouTube. We, uh, we let them put a thing on our channel. And now that some time has passed, I want to talk about it, because I've been thinking about it a lot.

We let them post a documentary film called Kedi, about cats in Turkey, on our channel, and we got paid for that. We broke up that money the same way we break up all of the money we make on Vlogbrothers: some of it went to the Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck, some of it went to our creator grants that we give to educational creators, we've given them to people like Kurzgesagt and Real Engineering and Wendover Productions before those channels got big, and some of that money went into our company, Complexly, which makes things like SciShow and Crash Course.

When YouTube reached out to us about this, I was really excited about the idea, I was really into it, and it seemed like a total, like, slam dunk. [moves arms in swinging motion] Slam dunk! [laughs]

We got to showcase a documentary that's had a lot of critical acclaim, and maybe bring a new audience to that. And also, the people who made that documentary got a bunch of money from YouTube getting the distribution rights. We got to talk with the filmmakers, they were very cool. And then I could watch the documentary, it would make me think things, and then I would be able to talk about the things that I thought on the channel and I like, I've been talking about what I think about, it's pretty much vlogbrothers.  

There was, however, once we did it, some pushback against it for, I think, perfectly good and legitimate reasons that I didn't really think about before we did it. 

So here's what's up: this was not an ad for YouTube Red.  That's not what the contract said and it's not how I thought of it in my brain, but also, it kinda was.  We didn't disclose this as a sponsorship because YouTube wasn't paying us to promote YouTube Red.  YouTube was paying us to use our YouTube channel to distribute a documentary they had bought the distribution rights to.  YouTube can't, of course, just upload whatever they want to any YouTube channel, but they wanted to put this documentary in a place where there would be the right kind of audience for it, like, people who like to think about stuff, which good on Nerdfighteria.  They wanted it to go to a fairly large and receptive audience and an audience that already had a fair percentage of people signed up for YouTube Red so there would be a fair number of people who would just automatically get access to it.

So YouTube paid us to use our channel to distribute the documentary that they had bought the distribution rights to, but at the same time, we were obviously gonna explain all that.  Like, YouTube knew we were gonna make videos about this, right?  We were gonna talk about why we liked the documentary, we're gonna talk about why we like YouTube Red, because I do like YouTube Red, I think it's good for creators and I think it's a good product if you can afford it.  

So they were paying us to use our YouTube channel, but they knew that there would be this other value being delivered and that's where the, like, brand deals can get fuzzy.  Like, it seemed pretty cut and dry when we were talking about it, 'cause we were talking about it in terms of distributing it on the vlogbrothers channel and that was the thing that we were being paid for.  That, like, I continue to believe that that's the thing that we were getting paid for, but there's this fuzzy thing, right, and in implementation, people were like, wait a second, you obviously got money for this and you were obviously not disclosing that it's a sponsorship so that's weird and I--like, I'm there with you.  

This idea of "an ad has to be disclosed", like, I'm tot--like, yes, obviously legally, but I think also morally you should disclose when a thing is an advertisement.  People should know when you're getting paid to say something, and in a TV show, that's really easy, because you've got like, five minutes of credits at the end in which, like, things are scrolling by and one of the things that scrolls by is "promotional consideration provided by (?~3:19) or Apple or whatever." but in a Tweet instead of it being like, buried at the bottom of all these other disclosures of who you've been working with and who worked on the thing, you get like, you have to have like, #ad, like, is the shortest thing you can do with three characters in 140 characters, like, it takes up a pretty substantial amount of the Tweet.  

So creators kind of hate disclosure.  It messes with your content and brands also don't like it because it messes with the perception that they're trying to create of this sort of link between their product and this cool, interesting creator.  They want that relationship to feel natural and authentic and the fact that you have to disclose, it gets in the way of that, but there are ways to like, wade into the fuzzy area with this, right?  

Take, for example, a daily vlogger who does a brand deal and they disclose that brand deal and it's like a big, interesting, cool thing and so everybody's sort of like, yeah, I get why you partnered with a brand to do this, and that's disclosed, but also, you make content all the time right now as a creator so when you're on the set of this thing, you're gonna be Snapchatting about it, you're gonna be Tweeting about it, you're gonna be Instagramming from the set, you might make a behind-the-scenes video, you might make a vlog on the way there and on the way back, and all that stuff isn't in the contract, it's not like, make all these things and Tweet about all these things, but it's--creators know that like, brand is gonna be happy if you do that and also this is an opportunity to create content so I'm gonna create content.  

None of that is the ad, but it's all value that's delivered only because the ad is happening.  In effect, it's all part of what the brand is paying for, and there have been times even when like, people have said, "Don't write into the contract that you're gonna Tweet, because then you have to disclose it.  Just do it anyway and the brand will sort of know that you delivered that value and compensate you accordingly."  Finding where to draw that line isn't easy.  It's so weird and convoluted and complicated that I wouldn't even talk about it if I hadn't done it myself, 'cause I don't wanna be calling people out on this, like, I think that there's a really good case to be made that those things that you make on the set of the brand deal you're doing aren't part of the brand deal, but it is muddy, and I just want to be honest with you and also with myself that we went into that muddy area there.  

I don't love that, because we said we'd never do brand deals on vlogbrothers.  I still say we'll never do brand deals on vlogbrothers, but we kinda did.  YouTube paid us to use our channel.  They didn't pay us to make videos, but we made videos and we got paid.  It's part of this fuzzy world we're entering into as the advertising industry figures out what it's gonna be in a post-TV world, which is gonna be very different from what they are now.  

I still love that we were able to bring a new audience to Kedi that people who wouldn't have seen the movie, and I still love the idea of YouTube channels interfacing with productions that are not their own, like, things that they could never do but they really like and they wanna talk about and share with their audience.  I would love to see other channels do that.  I feel like we got a little bit caught up in the excitement of the idea, like, I, at the time, was like, we should do this four times a year and have like, have like a quarterly documentary that we share on vlogbrothers, but like, now I feel a little bit like it--people expressed concern or were upset, I didn't have an easy way to say like, oh here's the reason why you shouldn't be upset, and that, in itself, is a red flag.  Like, there was no simple way to say, no, it's this, because it's not, it's more complicated than that.

So I just wanted to give a little bit of a post mortem debrief on Kedi and how it went and how--and that we've been thinking about it and what we've been thinking about, explain it a little bit, and also I'm super interested in what you think.  Advertising is changing really quickly.  It's gonna have to be a different thing in a world without eight minutes of ads in every thirty minutes of content, not even including the brand deals that are in the 22 minute part, but advertising is a huge part of how creations get funded and I'm not really sure what the creative world looks like without the advertising industry.  Like, I don't love the advertising industry, though I am obviously a part of it.   Maybe it doesn't need to exist.  Maybe subscription services and Patreon type things could take over for the lost revenue there.  I don't really think so, like, it's not gonna take over for 100% of that lost revenue.  

So what's the advertising industry gonna be like in the future?  How do you feel about people doing brand deals and how they disclose them and when it's good and when it's bad and how do you feel about this fuzzy area where you're being paid for one thing but people kinda know that there's gonna be other value delivered but that doesn't have to be labeled, because it's not the thing that's being paid for.

Really interested in what your thoughts are.  I think that it's a cool opportunity to think about this stuff a little bit, and I'm glad that, I'm kinda glad that I did it for a bunch of reasons, but also just because otherwise, I wouldn't feel comfortable interfacing with the conversation, because I wouldn't feel like I was part of the conversation, but here, now, I do feel like I'm part of the conversation 'cause I did the thing, a version of it, anyway.  

So thanks for listening.  I hope that this clears up--I'm sorry that it took me so long to talk about it, but like, we sort of wanted to get it a little bit behind before we did, and yeah, but definitely always thinking.  I'll see you later.