YouTube facing challenges from influencers

1 November, 2017

YouTube influencers have long been able to derive significant revenue through the content they post on the platform.

Advertisers are keen on influencers with deft FIFA moves or unboxing skills delivering content that reaches significant subscribers. Advertising revenue flows from there.

Not all fun and games

YouTube content goes beyond entertainment though. Influencers use the platform as a mechanism to discuss a whole range of subject matters. Some of these are challenging issues. For instance, sexual abuse, teenage issues and mental health. Influencers with this content are finding it harder to make YouTube viable.

The background is that YouTube has attracted considerable criticism from government and advertisers for allowing extremist and inappropriate content on the platform. There is nothing unusual in this as advertisers have long required restrictions that their adverts not appear against black-listed content. The tipping point was advertising content appearing against extreme terrorist material. Not really what advertisers are looking for.

YouTube’s changes

YouTube responded by enhancing its algorithms in an attempt to ensure adverts only appeared against appropriate material. Advertisers were assured that their adverts did not appear next to extremist content and influencers continued to receive their share of advertising revenue.

Everyone is happy again. Well, not quite. An unintended consequence is that YouTube’s changes have impacted upon influencers who provide content on the more challenging subjects outlined above. These influencers are having adverts restricted on their content as it is deemed not family friendly. This is resulting in their content effectively being “demonetised”. Influencers like this may not want to make millions but they do need to generate revenue.

The backlash

Certain influencers are increasingly unhappy about the way YouTube treats and communicates with them. They are working harder but making less of a return. No-one likes an effective pay cut.

There is talk of influencers seeking pastures new, but the viable options at the moment are limited. YouTube is still the pre-eminent platform. Whilst Vine has fallen by the way-side (who would have thought sharing six second clips had a limited life span), there are other potential challengers on the horizon.

One of YouTube’s attractions is the vast amount of content on it. Acting in a manner which impacts on some of the more creative and challenging influencers only detracts from it being a broad church.

The way forward

Advertisers may find some of the content challenging but better algorithms can be devised to provide the relevant protections. The alternative is that influencers with something challenging to say drift away. What remains is advertiser friendly content of kids showing off their FIFA moves and unboxing gadgets. These are fun, informative and (some would say) infinitely better than cat videos but there’s more YouTube can do to encourage genuinely informative and challenging content.

For more information on advertising and media buying issues, please contact Tom Trowhill at or on +44 (0)1892 506342

For updates from us and the latest Tech news follow us on Twitter @CrippsTechLaw