Ads, via Adsense, on YouTube channels have long been the primary source of revenue for content creators. The rise of subscription programming, affiliate opportunities and outright sponsorships, however, means disabling ads on your channel may prove more beneficial for your specific needs.
On the surface, it seems counterintuitive to disable ads on your YouTube channel. After all the work and effort required to even be eligible to host them for yourself (thanks to YouTube’s newest policies), why would you get rid of them? The answer isn’t cut and dry, and your own creative needs will influence your decision, but there are benefits to consider.
Disabling ads allows you to eliminate the more annoying aspects of ad placement. While there are options available to control when the intrusion of ads happen during your videos, viewers often still don’t care for the interruption. Too often, an ill-placed ad could kill a viewer’s interest in finishing a video, causing them to click away. After all, the initial boom of streaming services came from audiences’ desire to ditch traditional commercial models of television.
Like all online marketing, making money off of YouTube’s ads are based entirely on views. The more you get, the more money you earn. It’s been the basis of advertising since the inception of television. In modern times, with everyone able to create a YouTube channel, creators are doing anything they can to get eyes on their videos.
Disabling ads ensures that growth is not the only thing you focus on.
Sometimes this results in creators trying to game YouTube’s algorithm by hitting all the right keywords, headlines and even thumbnails to help drive more traffic to their specific channel. It’s more than simple clickbait practices, as many channels become fixated on algorithm optimization for their videos. They focus almost entirely on garnering views through various (often annoying) methods instead of putting efforts into crafting unique and original content for viewers.
You’ve likely seen one of your favorite channels devolve into a “clickbait factory” you unsubscribe from. By disabling your ads, however, it’s a problem you can avoid entirely. When you tell viewers upfront that your channel is ad-free, you’re making a statement that you’re dedicated to quality content. If audiences know they won’t have to worry about invasive ads or shady clickbait practices, there’s more incentive to subscribe.
You’ll still need to adhere to the basics of SEO practices and utilize proper keywords; you still want to grow your audience and bring new subscribers to your channel. Disabling ads, however, ensures that doesn’t become the only thing you focus on.
Your revenue options
Beyond those benefits, if subscribers know you’re not getting income from regular ads, they might be more inclined to help financially in other ways. There are a handful of options to help keep your content flowing:
Affiliates and Sponsorships
Even without ads on your channel, that doesn’t mean other traditional means of revenue are closed to you. Affiliate links from online retailers are easy enough to place unobtrusively. The same can be said for sponsored video posts, where you’re paid for posting about certain topics. As always, it’s important to maintain transparency about sponsored posts and to keep them within your normal subject matter.
This is a common choice among creators (beyond even YouTube). Its service allows for varying subscription models that offer patrons exclusives based on how much money they contribute every month.
YouTube Channel Memberships
This is a newer program offered directly from YouTube. As such, not everyone can participate and there are eligibility requirements to participate. It works similarly to Patreon in that you can set specific membership levels, offering perks to those who pay more. It’s a handy new option for those who don’t want to maintain multiple platforms or services.
Developing your own “store” for merchandise related to your channel is a fun way to earn money, though it can be a tad slower to take off. The added benefit is the free marketing from viewers wearing shirts or other items with your brand clearly visible.
Alternatively, you can turn to crowdfunding platforms like KickStarter or GoFundMe to raise money to produce an entire “season” of your video content, or support your other endeavors to coincide with your channel. This is the route Matt Colville took for his tabletop gaming channel, which ended up raising more than $2 million on KickStarter last year.
No matter which revenue option you choose, maintain clear communication with your viewers. Be upfront. Tell them these options exist so you can deliver ad-free content for them to enjoy. Dropping reminders about your Patreon and sharing links to your merchandise store on the front and backend of your videos (with links in video descriptions) isn’t as intrusive as regular ads can be.
You’ll still need to do a fair bit of self-promotion to make these other options work, but in the long run, they can be far more lucrative.