Monday, 15 November 2010

Adverts on YouTube

For those who are not aware of the fact, I'm part of the YouTube partnership program and have been for a little over a year now. It's a very nifty scheme with some fantastic benefits that I plan on discussing in a future blog, and it's one that has expanded my fanbase and potential to a level so extreme it's almost overwhelming.

In this blog post I'm going to discuss more specifically the adverts that you can run alongside your videos, along with some of the pros and cons that are associated with them.

When will I see adverts on YouTube?

There are a few different occasions you'll see ads on YouTube. The most common is when a YouTube partner has enabled revenue sharing on their videos. The partner can choose to place adverts beside, below, and within the video in question, and earn money depending on the amount of views and "clicks" the advert receives.

You may also see adverts on videos that are using copyrighted material. Let's say somebody really loves Justin Bieber and decides to produce a fan video consisting of drawings they've done of him set to Usher's "Yeah". SME spot this video and flag it up for copyright infringement. They then have the choice to have the video muted, to have the video taken down completely, to ignore it, or to monetize the video themselves. These adverts do not earn the uploader any money, and the uploader has no control - or any right to control - over them. This is something else I'll be exploring in more detail in a future blog post.

What kind of adverts are there?

There are several types of advert available on YouTube, and as a partner you have direct control over which ones you put on your videos (and even, to an extent, what they contain). The most common adverts are shown to the top right of a video above the suggestions, and as a small pop-up ad during the video itself.

These are the adverts that you'll see more often than any other. The other option is called "Instream" advertising. This is the somewhat notorious and slightly controversial method of advertising where video adverts play before and/or after your video (and, for some longer videos, during). 

So how do YouTube partners earn money from adverts?

YouTube runs it's adverts through Google's own AdSense program. You earn a little revenue each time an advert is clicked or gains a certain amount of views, and when you reach a set amount (in the UK it's £60, here in the US it's $100, and it varies from country to country) Google sends you a cheque or money transfer at the end of the month.

It's not huge amounts so unless you're getting hundreds of thousands of views a day don't expect to become rich, but for smaller partners like myself it's a very effective way of helping offset the cost of equipment and software, and a very nice reward for the videos we produce.

But I hate adverts, I don't want to see them!

There are many complaints
like this!

This, along with the flipside "what if my viewers don't want the adverts?" is by FAR the most common topic and issue raised when discussing adverts on YouTube. People feel remarkably passionate about adverts, far more than I'd personally have anticipated, and to be fair there are occasions where it can be a little overkill (something I'll discuss a little later in this blog). The main complaint is that YouTube is cramming too much advertising onto their website - this is, of course, a misconception, since as I pointed out earlier the channels themselves have full control over what adverts, if any, are shown on the videos. So, the real complaint lies with YouTube partners monetizing their videos.

What a lot of people fail to realize is that making videos is hard work. When I post to my beatbox tutorial series, for example, I post two videos at a time. These take a full day of producing. I'm not exaggerating - every single one of my videos goes through a process that includes scripting, planning, filming (including setting up the camera, sorting focus and white balance, etc), editing, rendering (a process alone that can well over an hour even for a video that's five minutes long), uploading, describing, tagging, annotating, posting to Facebook and Twitter and various other websites... that's not even including replying to comments, deleting spam, and responding to emails I'm sent! Generally when I'm posting videos I'll be working from 9am with 9pm generally being the time I'm finally finished. That's 12 hours for two videos, with maybe an hour where I'll grab something to eat during the day.That's more than a standard full-time work shift, and I don't mind confessing that I work much harder producing videos than I have at any job before!

YouTube's "Destorm".
On top of this, making videos costs money. I purchased my camera, laptop, and editing software with my own money.

With all of this in mind, I find it rather exasperating when somebody complains about adverts on my videos. I recall when I first became a partner a user posted an extremely abusive comment on my channel and unsubscribed. This was before I'd even added the pre-roll adverts to my main video series! While the idea of losing subscribers and views is not something that appeals to me, at the same time I'm not that fussed if somebody cares so little about supporting me that they'd leave when I start making money! That is, after all, what it all boils down to - support. I have a lot of fantastic fans that show me support, and return I'll carry on making videos for them!

As I've touched on above I've added pre-roll ads to my main series. These are the most controversial adverts by far; generally they consist of short ~15 second long adverts that play before a video. There are occasions where the criticism of these can be somewhat reasonable - for example, I've seen videos that are only 30 seconds long that have these adverts - but these occasions are few and far between. To bring the point up again I spend hours on my videos, and I know many YouTube partners work much harder than I do with far better equipment. If you don't like the adverts, don't use that channel. It's as simple as that!

So what are the pros and cons of running adverts on your videos? How can I run adverts without alienating my fans?

The main pro is, obviously, earning money! For my videos I've had to buy my own camera and laptop for editing, along with the editing software (which alone can cost hundreds of dollars). Therefore earning some money for it means I can upgrade my equipment (I have major plans to upgrade to a tastier laptop!) as well as earn some spare cash for my own use; I have a wedding fast approaching, after all.

The cons boil down to the reaction of your fans. You might lose subscribers (although I've only lost one) but to be honest any real fan will understand and even appreciate being able to support you. You'll get the occasional hateful comment, but nothing too overwhelming in my experience.

Really it's a case of balance. As I've touched on a couple of times it's very possible to go a little overkill with adverts. If your video is particularly short a pre-roll advert is probably not a good idea. To visit the example I gave of a 30 second long video having an advert, that means a third of the time I spent on that page was consumed by an advert. That's a little too extreme in my opinion. Treat pre-roll ads responsibly - limit them to your "main" series, or to your longer videos.


I spend a lot of time on the YouTube help forums for a variety of reasons and adverts are probably the most misunderstood subject I see. Viewers, it really boils down to this: if you like the channel you are watching, then show your support and accept the adverts. If you don't like it enough for that, go elsewhere. Uploaders, make sure you don't go overboard with your ads, and keep constant interaction with your fans so they understand it's you, not YouTube, who place the adverts there. Make sure they understand your appreciation for their support.

Thanks for reading!

Peace, love, and if I see that blinkin' Vampires Suck advert one more time I'm going to punch someone