The Adpocalypse is upon us and few are righteous enough to survive the horror that is demonetization. Creators are being forced to choose between betraying their creative voice and loosing revenue. Many are fleeing YouTube for alternatives like Twitch and looking for revenue in new places like Patreon, but there is another option.
This year saw major restructuring to the way content creators can monetize their YouTube channels. Early in 2017, we were hit with the Adpocalypse — a massive boycott of YouTube by major marketers, followed by a series of changes that altered the way ads are run on videos. The new changes mean that creators can lose revenue if their content is falls into any of a number of categories including “shocking” or dealing with “sensitive social issues”.
In this modern era of media consumption, niche is the new mainstream.
This was a blow felt across the board. Science educators and prank channels, gamers and beauty vloggers — somehow the changes seemed to affect everyone on the platform. Content creators simply aren’t making as much money as they had been.
What could YouTube do differently?
Specialized content could be sponsored by ads specially tailored to those markets.
This ground has already been tread. National Lampoon was a humor magazine that made a point to ridicule everyone and everything; nothing was considered off-limits. Initially, with their ‘sick and depraved’ reputation, the Lampoon had a hard time finding advertisers. They had an audience; it was just a matter of framing it properly. Through researching their demographic, The Lampoon knew that their audience drank more alcohol than average magazine readers, so their strategy became targeting liquor companies for ads. They continued figuring out which niches their audience fell into and going after specifically targeted ad dollars.
Can this apply to YouTube channels?
There’s plenty of advertisers who are not best served with broad, mainstream audiences or family friendly fare. Edgier content is a great place for their edgier ads — for alcohol, sex toys, maybe even the burgeoning legal marijuana industry.
I’d bet the majority viewers watching prank videos rarely care about an ad for the newest full sized truck, but a 30-second spot for Wiz Khalifa’s special blend of Khalifa Kush might actually be relevant to their daily lives.
Who would benefit?
This could work out for everyone.
Content creators wouldn’t be stuck trying to conform to YouTube’s delicate policies about “shocking” or “sensitive” content in order bring in revenue. Brands would be able to better target who they’re marketing to, allowing them to better use their ad dollars. YouTube would win by appealing to the creators who are leaving in search of more creative freedom and by opening more opportunities for a greater range of advertisers to find their audience. Even the viewers win since they would be seeing ads that are more relevant to their lives instead of those that are just trying to throw as wide a net as possible.
In this modern era of media consumption, niche is the new mainstream. Advertising is the lifeblood of the YouTube monetization model, and the powers that be should be working to open up more avenues for advertisers to connect with audiences. That means increasing the diversity of content, not homogenizing it.