The recent tug-of-war between YouTube, its ad partners, and its creative community — which we and others have termed the “adpocalypse” — remains a hot topic of conversation in online video circles, and creators and their associates have urged YouTube to offer solutions for sitewide drops in ad revenue. Now, the video site is taking a step in the right direction by updating its guidelines for advertiser-friendly content in order to explain to channel owners what exactly will cause their videos to become “demonetized.”
The ad-friendly guidelines, previously just a few bullet points, are now listed in their own section of YouTube’s virtual help desk. In addition to telling creators which topics they should avoid if they want to run ads on their channel (including sexually suggestive and violent content), the video site has shared some best practices for creating ad-friendly content, has shined some light on the process through it flags videos that end up demonetized, and has reminded creators how they can request a review if they believe one of their videos has been inappropriately flagged.
YouTube has also added several items to its list of ad-unfriendly qualities, including hate speech, inflammatory speech, and situations that depict notable family-friendly characters in inappropriate ways (the creators of those weird Spiderman and Elsa videos should be careful.) To help creators navigate all these guidelines, it has set up a new course within its Creator Academy based around the topic of ad-friendly content.
While the demonetization of ad-unfriendly videos has been a notable discussion thread on YouTube for the better part of a year, talks got much hotter after advertisers complained in March 2017 that their spots were being shown before videos posted by extremist groups. In response to that controversy and the ensuing boycott it generated, the Google-owned site rolled out new safeguards to better protect its brand partners, but that decision in turn caused creators to complain about a resulting decline in ad revenue — and about the lack of transparency YouTube showed in making its dramatic changes. At events like the creator summit that took place adjacent to Brandcast, videomakers implored YouTube to throw them a bone. Many creators also took the video site to task on social media.
By updating its guidelines, YouTube is showing some of the transparency creators have asked for. More details about the changes to the ad-friendly guidelines are available in a blog post.