YouTube Provides Rare, Robust Window Into Monetization Guidelines For Creators

By 06/05/2020
YouTube Provides Rare, Robust Window Into Monetization Guidelines For Creators

For the first time, YouTube is laying out in greater detail how it decides whether specific content on its platform should be monetized or not.

The newly-released guidelines arrive as an update to YouTube’s Self-Certification program. YouTube first teased self-certification in Oct. 2018 and began testing the feature among select creators in its Partner Program last July. It is currently being rolled out “in stages” to the entire community.

Self-certification helps YouTube make decisions about monetization faster — and with greater accuracy — by having creators rate the ad-friendliness of their own videos. Self-certification impacts YouTube’s own monetization systems over time, learning to trust creators when their ratings are regularly consistent with YouTube’s own rulings. That said, if creators are found to be inaccurate, YouTube won’t rely on their self-certifications as often or at all.


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In its latest Creator Insider video, YouTube explained that it wants to make the self-certification process more clear. The new polices, as laid out right here, were derived from the internal policies that YouTube gives its 10,000+ human reviewers. And though YouTube notes the policies those reviewers receive haven’t been shared in full here, the new rundown serves as a summation — and a set of key definitions — that creators have long sought additional clarity on given widespread confusion about the policy’s inner-workings.

“This is the first time that any content-centered platform has been this transparent,” says YouTube ads policy manager Conor Kavanagh in the Creator Insider clip. “We’re going all in on transparency, and really this is only going to be the beginning of the publication of these guidelines.”

Kavanagh adds that the company is now providing four times as much verbiage on monetization than had been available to self-certifiers before, and that it intends to update the policy at least every two months. This marks perhaps YouTube’s most fulsome bid yet for transparency amid a conversation about monetization that dates back to the 2017 Adpocalypse, which set into motion ongoing questions about what kind of content should be eligible for ads.

The new guidelines comprise eight sections:

  • Inappropriate language
  • Adult content
  • Violence
  • Harmful or dangerous acts
  • Recreational drugs content
  • Hateful content
  • Firearms-related content
  • Sensitive issues

Each section is broken down into three monetization options: ‘You can turn on ads for this content’, ‘You can turn on ads but only brands who opt in will run ads’, and ‘You should turn off ads for this content’.

While the new guidelines can be read in full right here, Kavanagh notes that this is the first time that YouTube has broken down the way it handles — for instance — the subject of nudity at the monetization level. Censored nudity in videos where nudity isn’t the focus can be monetized, per the new guidelines, whereas non-fleeting depictions of blurred or censored nudity is subject to limited ads. And self-certifiers should turn off ads when videos showcase “full nudity, sexual acts, animal mating, discussion of fetishes, or a video thumbnail with sexual content,” according to YouTube.

In disclosing the guidelines, YouTube reiterates that it is not seeking to clarify what kind of content can be produced, just what can be monetized. The company also notes that creators can make money in other ways beyond ads, including Super Chats and Channel Memberships.

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