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posted by hubie on Thursday February 15, @01:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the there-go-the-advertisers-I-must-follow-them-for-I-am-their-leader dept.

https://a.wholelottanothing.org/2024/02/05/todays-youtubers-are-repeating-the-mistakes-of-yesterdays-bloggers/

I watch a ton of YouTube, on the order of an hour or two each day and I can honestly say the no-ads premium family account on YouTube is one of the best bargains on the internet for everyone in my house.

Lately, YouTube creators are going through a reckoning, and I think it's unfortunate to see some creators I've come to know and trust over the years squander their work as they chase percentage points of revenue instead of focusing on the craft.

It reminds me a lot of how blogging changed around 2005-2009, when ad money came pouring in, and while it was great for bloggers that previously were just publishing for the heck of it (myself included), eventually the money tainted the process as many people rushed to improve their bottom line, often at the expense of whole reason they created their sites.

[...] My hope for YouTube creators is much like bloggers. Don't spend all your time chasing the tea leaves and conventional wisdom. Focus on your channel/site and keep creating things you love that will resonate with your viewers/readers. Hopefully the money will follow, but obsessing over how to eke out every last cent from your work will make your work suffer.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by ikanreed on Thursday February 15, @01:41PM (3 children)

    by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 15, @01:41PM (#1344598) Journal

    Not today. Today things are fine for youtubers. But enshittification will happen. Google will turn on them, destroying their livelihoods to marginally increase profits over the short term. There will an executive who asks "Why is so much of our revenue going to pay these creators" and "Why do we still allow patreon links, they should use our join system".

    I'd hate to have my career latched to this shit.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Thursday February 15, @01:57PM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 15, @01:57PM (#1344602) Journal

      Will happen? Maybe you're not seeing the Youtube I'm seeing. I've always browsed through the "news" channels. There have been Youtubers who do an excellent job of encapsulating current events into a 5 to 15 minute video, with a lot of citations. Today, my "recommended" videos include a butt ton of morons who regurgitate the exact same news that CNN, or Fox, or the Guardian has already published, read off in a robovoice. I'm getting more and more of those moronic voice reader recommendations, fewer and fewer of people who even attempt to provide a real service. Add in those channels with a clearly defined political agenda (Pro-Israeli and Pro-Palestine for instance) and real news, real perspective, is getting hard to find.

      I see a recommendation, and I find myself checking to see who published it first. There have to be dozens now that I will not click on.

      --
      ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
      • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Thursday February 15, @02:52PM

        by Barenflimski (6836) on Thursday February 15, @02:52PM (#1344606)

        Anytime the ratio for content/(creators spewing it) is closer to 1, the content farms from around the world (china and korea come to mind) do exactly what you describe. AI generated crap read aloud by a bot. It happens in almost every category. Like you, most of us don't pay much mind to this stuff.

        These companies/individuals have little overhead. They throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. If they can make $20 a day, they're killing it. I wouldn't be surprised if they have ChatGPT type apps that put this stuff together based on a query.

        I've not found that this type of junk has affected any of the channels I've ever watched. I've seen it tried, but I've never seen one significantly dent any real channel.

    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Thursday February 15, @06:18PM

      by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday February 15, @06:18PM (#1344632)

      What? Executives cornering profits on a spreadsheet? That's just silly [youtu.be], and happens only infrequently.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Opportunist on Thursday February 15, @01:46PM (8 children)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Thursday February 15, @01:46PM (#1344599)

    I think this has to do with the history of YouTube, what it was, why some channels gained popularity and how they are now in a "between rock and hard place" position.

    When YouTube was young, it was a breathe of fresh air. Cable TV, which was the main source of entertainment back then, was getting stale. Anything "racy" was gone. No channel dared to air something that could be in any way "offensive". Even if it wasn't actually offensive, but the fear that some professionally outraged person with way too much time and way too few real problems could make it their problem to start campaigning against some sort of entertainment made networks cut everything that wasn't "family friendly". Or, in other words, boring as fuck.

    In came YouTube and there were people who would not really give a fuck what anyone thought of their program. They swore, they were crass, they yelled and, wonder over wonder, people liked that. Because they couldn't get it anywhere else. TV networks sure as all hell wouldn't provide it, and while I certainly don't shed a tear over Jerry Springer and similar programs going off the air, there was a market for that. And that market went to YouTube.

    And people saw that they could actually make bank with that kind of content. So they did. And for quite a few of them, this eventually meant they could just quit their day job and concentrate on doing what they really, really enjoy doing.

    So they did.

    Then the "adpocalypse" happened. YouTube started to crack down on the crass and racy content because they, just like the networks before them, feared that advertisers would turn away if they didn't. So the YouTubers had to tune down their swearing, they had to sanitize their content, they had to self-censor and in turn, people turned away in disgust. Because if they wanted that, they could just have stayed with the networks. Higher production values (ok... at least sometimes...), and content just as bland.

    So now those YouTubers face a problem. Some managed to stay on with Patreon and the like, but they need to make money somehow. Unless they want to go back to working a day job. And they'll try their best to avoid that.

    So that's what it is.

    They will either sell out or Patreon. Your choice, viewer!

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by owl on Thursday February 15, @02:35PM (2 children)

      by owl (15206) on Thursday February 15, @02:35PM (#1344603)

      Then the "adpocalypse" happened. YouTube started to crack down on the crass and racy content because they, just like the networks before them, feared that advertisers would turn away if they didn't.

      And this is going to always be the issue with any advertising funded broadcast system. The creators will always have an overseer in the advertisers that are ultimately funding their creations, and if the advertisers are unhappy with the content, then one of two outcomes happen: 1) the content changes to please the overseer advertiser; or 2) the advertiser stops funding the content.

      So the ultimate enshitification for any advertising funded broadcast system is to either trend towards the bland, will offend no one, content over time, or have the funding dry up.

      • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Thursday February 15, @08:44PM (1 child)

        by Opportunist (5545) on Thursday February 15, @08:44PM (#1344657)

        What I don't get is that the advertisers don't realize that their target audience is going away if the content isn't to their liking. So they only have two choices: Either advertise with content that may cause some professionally outraged people with way too much time and way too few real problems to cause a stir, or to advertise with programs nobody watches.

        That's the choice advertisers have.

        Sorry, there's no third option where you can have bland, inoffensive content and millions of viewers. Because nobody wants to watch the test pattern.

        • (Score: 2) by owl on Friday February 16, @09:19PM

          by owl (15206) on Friday February 16, @09:19PM (#1344821)

          Sadly, the advertisers do not see this as the outcome.

          Of course, many in the advertising dept. also can't contemplate that people do not want to see their ads either.

          So it may simply be willful blindness on their part in ignoring the "if you enshitify the content, you'll lose the eyeballs you want looking at these ads" angle.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Barenflimski on Thursday February 15, @03:01PM (4 children)

      by Barenflimski (6836) on Thursday February 15, @03:01PM (#1344608)

      Um, maybe.

      There are so many degenerates streaming on YouTube at any given moment, its hard to say the crackdown worked well. Are they monetized on YouTube? No. Do they sell millions in merch? Many do. Just two that make zero from YouTube revenue but make millions off of their YouTube content due to merch sales are Danny Duncan and The Nelk Boys. There is no shortage of 'up and coming' wannabe's who are as crass and idiotic as you can imagine trying to get noticed.

      While YouTube doesn't monetize many of these folks, they certainly seem to leave them on the platform for the most part. Even the ones banned come back with 3 more accounts the next hour that never get banned. I assume it pays to leave the crass folks around as when their non-monetized live stream or video ends, YouTube can forward you to the next monetized video.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Ox0000 on Thursday February 15, @07:34PM (3 children)

        by Ox0000 (5111) on Thursday February 15, @07:34PM (#1344649)

        I assume it pays to leave the crass folks around as when their non-monetized live stream or video ends, YouTube can forward you to the next monetized video.

        EVERY single video on youtube is monetized; the money may not flow to whomever uploaded the video, but youtube is making bank on every second of footage on that site.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Thursday February 15, @11:00PM (1 child)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 15, @11:00PM (#1344667) Journal

          youtube is making bank on every second of footage on that site.

          Maybe for most people. Since I don't see ads, I don't think they make anything off my viewing. The only ads I see are those embedded in the video, "Now a word from my sponsor, suckereveryminuteVPN.net".

          --
          ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
          • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Friday February 16, @09:24AM

            by Nuke (3162) on Friday February 16, @09:24AM (#1344702)

            Since I don't see ads, I don't think they make anything off my viewing.

            I don't see ads either (uBlock Origin) but I guess the adverstisers don't know that so are paying YT for my supposed views anyway.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, @08:10AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, @08:10AM (#1345132)
          I'd be very surprised if YouTube is making bank on every second of the videos I upload to them...

          Especially the unlisted ones which are to help in returning items I bought (videos of the issue, the unpacking/unboxing, etc).

          I'd be very amused if the seller had to watch ads before watching the videos. More so if the ads were humorously related.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Thursday February 15, @02:44PM (7 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 15, @02:44PM (#1344604) Journal

    It reminds me a lot of how blogging changed around 2005-2009, when ad money came pouring in

    I've said it before and in detail: Advertising destroys everything it ever touches [soylentnews.org]

    Every medium known to mankind that is touched by advertising is eventually destroyed by it.

    Advertising won't end with orbital billboards or ads on the inside of your eyeballs. That will be just the start of a new beginning.

    --
    Since nobody defrags SSDs anymore, they are more (or less?) prone to failure of their seek mechanisms.
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, @03:43PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, @03:43PM (#1344614)

      In general, I agree (and remember your earlier screed), but there are counter examples. Back in the day, I think it would be hard to argue that the original Burma Shave roadside ads "destroyed" the fun of a road trip, consider this one:
      https://azdot.gov/adot-blog/our-signs-then-youll-love-original-highway-message-masters [azdot.gov]

      It's best for

      one who hits

      the bottle

      to let another

      use the throttle

      Burma-Shave

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday February 15, @03:50PM (3 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 15, @03:50PM (#1344616) Journal

        Yes, some ads are clever or fun or both. Some are even truthful.

        Nonetheless, despite those exceptions, and they are most certainly exceptions, advertising destroys every medium it touches. Just look at the history I point out.

        --
        Since nobody defrags SSDs anymore, they are more (or less?) prone to failure of their seek mechanisms.
        • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Friday February 16, @10:00AM (2 children)

          by istartedi (123) on Friday February 16, @10:00AM (#1344708) Journal

          Except maybe NASCAR; but I suppose the sport itself is advertising for the car companies.

          If you look at it that way, it's like the ads on the cars are ad-parasites on another big ad.

          Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
          And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.

          --
          Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
          • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, @03:31PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, @03:31PM (#1344726)

            NASCAR sport???
            Come back to me when the drivers can run as fast as the cars...

            Pffhawww..

            • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Friday February 16, @07:09PM

              by istartedi (123) on Friday February 16, @07:09PM (#1344783) Journal

              Have you ever seen an obese NASCAR driver? There are reasons [motorsportexplained.com].

              --
              Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Thursday February 15, @07:15PM

      by captain normal (2205) on Thursday February 15, @07:15PM (#1344644)

      Well advertising is simply a tool of "marketing". How many great ideas and creations have been destroyed by the "marketing department"?

      --
      Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts"- --Daniel Patrick Moynihan--
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, @08:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, @08:19AM (#1345136)
      I quite enjoy watching some Thai ads.

      FWIW I'm not convinced that advertising destroys everything it touches. What we should do is to stop going around trying to convince random strangers to install adblockers. Or "this better adblocking method/system/app/etc that you are using".

      Keep the arms race at a level that works for you - you don't need to outrun the bear if there are enough who are slower than you.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by looorg on Thursday February 15, @02:53PM (1 child)

    by looorg (578) on Thursday February 15, @02:53PM (#1344607)

    I guess I just don't notice it, I block all the ads and it seems to be working so far. Still. Some run their usual stick of like, subscribe, share blahblah. They have their Patreon, some try to sell their own merchandise and a few other things. Then there are the unskippable things where they hock some product (some "free" online game, some store that sell something somewhat related to what the channel is about, PCB Way etc etc), I practically tune those out mentally. I tried letting some of them show ads for support. But I'm not doing that again. So many ads. So many breaks. Before, After, During, Over, Under, whatever. Hell no!

    I'm not entirely sure what the same mistake as the bloggers would be, didn't the bloggers become the youtubers etc? So are they repeating their own previous mistake of shilling for products? Obvious shilling. To many ads. I understand they need some way to pay the bills and not all of them are making the millions of $$$ but at the same time it can't inconvenience the viewer so I guess they better come up with something better then -- cram in more ads.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday February 15, @03:33PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 15, @03:33PM (#1344613) Journal

      Some run their usual stick of like, subscribe, share blahblah

      Here is the worst one: Ring that bell!

      Do you realize that you're not ringing a bell, you re subscribing yourself to the annoyance of notifications for every new video. They don't tell you that. They want to equate "ringing that bell" to something like clinking your drinking glasses together or a high five.

      --
      Since nobody defrags SSDs anymore, they are more (or less?) prone to failure of their seek mechanisms.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by ledow on Thursday February 15, @03:15PM (5 children)

    by ledow (5567) on Thursday February 15, @03:15PM (#1344610) Homepage

    "I watch a ton of YouTube, on the order of an hour or two each day"

    And hence you would expect these creators to be making, actually, several hours of content every day. To fulfill all their viewer's needs.

    That doesn't come free. They will want paying.

    Like lots of things - you start it as a hobby, it gets popular, people express a wish to see more, you make more, they ask for more, you make more, they ask for even more, and then you slowly come to realise that it's begun taking over your life, you're earning nothing from it, you get hassle left, right and centre from users, and they are very fickle - they don't want to pay for it, and they will go elsewhere if you don't provide.

    I've had that happen to me with personal open-source projects, with running gaming servers, with operating websites, etc. for the last 25+ years at least.

    That "best bargain on the Internet" of yours? $22.99/month? And you alone watch 1 or 2 hours per day. Call it 1h30m. 30 days in a month. 45 hours of content. You're paying $0.51 per hour, not including everything else that your family watches.

    How much of that gets to the content creators? I'm not going to dig too much, but approximately $0.018 for each view (not hour, view). That's hundreds to thousands of views they need to make an hourly wage. They need to make that hourly wage for 8 or more hours a day. They need to do that EVERY DAY.

    Apart from those who literally make millions, and the kids who are excited to get a few pence for messing about on camera, that middle-ground (quality content that takes hours and other expenses to create, which you consume in a day for less than $1) are trapped in a hobby they probably don't enjoy.

    Their exit paths are - do it entirely for the love of the thing, constantly, every day. Or get money any way they can.

    I can't blame them at all for choosing the latter once the sheen wears off.

    I have spent countless thousands of hours on "community" projects - Linux distros, creating software, creating content (not video, though), operating services and servers, dedicating my time to online communities, even documentation. Always ad-free, always open-source, always free at the point of use by people, etc.

    Some of that cost me lots of money - paying many £100's per year to operate servers for a single project, and for decades in some cases, etc.

    Do you know what the sum total of all the user-contributions that I've ever received are? Less than $100 in 25+ years. And I actually felt guilty, because mostly that was me saying "Hey guys, this is great, but I can't afford to keep doing this, any help would be appreciated" and then that ONE GUY who you know loves your stuff is guilted into contributing what he can afford and you just think "I have to be grateful, but he's the one I'd gladly do it for free for anyway. And there's no way I can sustain this".

    What this guy is asking the creators to do is to do it purely for the love while he pays a thousand times more (and which is still a pittance) to a website that happens to host the video rather than the guy who created it.

    Sorry, but if you want to understand content creators, start with zero in a bank account and see how far you get by contributions from people who consume your content (whether that's software, art, novels, music, whatever) and see how far you get and what kind of hourly wage you get for it.

    Especially if you started down that path because you had no source of income and hoped it would provide (everyone is always very nice about your content... nobody ever pays for it), you pour thousands of hours into something and get a tiny fraction of minimum wage. And when you do get an opportunity to "go large", you have guys like this trying to tell you how to run that business so that they can selfishly profit most from it.

    No. The mistake being repeated - endlessly - is people thinking that content is free or almost valueless.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday February 15, @05:26PM (1 child)

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday February 15, @05:26PM (#1344624)

      Thank you! When in doubt, follow the money.

      And it's not like there's not some really excellent stuff on YouTube. For example, the channel "World War II" is doing some incredibly detailed work on that event, including weekly coverage of the military history, a 24-hour minute-by-minute looks at the Pearl Harbor attack and the D-Day landings, and also doing detailed coverage of atrocities committed on all sides, interesting or notable spying activities that are in some cases only recently coming to light, and the situations away from the front lines. The kind of thing the History Channel should have been doing. Luckily, they have enough Patreon money coming in that they can afford to keep doing it, but still it's not great.

      No. The mistake being repeated - endlessly - is people thinking that content is free or almost valueless.

      I don't think it's a "mistake". If you're a content distributor, which YouTube is, you want to maximize the cost to the viewers and/or advertisers to see the content, and want to minimize the cost you pay for that content. Treating the content as valueless is a good way to drive the price you pay for it down to zero. Countering ad blockers and pushing people to pay for the ad-free version (which I can guarantee you thanks to enshittification will one day be the "fewer ads" version, and later the "fewer ads, no really we promise, don't measure it" version) is maximizing the cost to the viewers or advertisers.

      Basically, if you want to ruin anything cool, just add a pile of money and a room full of MBAs.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Thursday February 15, @07:58PM

        by captain normal (2205) on Thursday February 15, @07:58PM (#1344652)

        The thing I hate about ads on internet sites is many of them follow the lead of television stations, inserting ad breaks every 5 minutes and running floating banner ads and /or gif type ads over the content. I guess I was spoiled by newspaper ads placed in spaces separated from content and not floating across the content. It is very refreshing when on a very rare occasion I run across a site that actually does this. If all sites followed this concept, there would be no need for ad blockers or blocking javascript.

        --
        Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts"- --Daniel Patrick Moynihan--
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, @09:33PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, @09:33PM (#1344662)

      There was a reason they were called "starving artists"

      The floodgates have been opened, world-wide distribution of what you create can happen now
      for free and no longer require book or record publishers/distributors and the result is a glut of
      stuff to eat up every waking moment of your time for a fleeting endorphine rush.

      The consuption maw is wide open and has an infinite appetite.

      • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Thursday February 15, @11:04PM

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 15, @11:04PM (#1344668) Journal

        If I were a starving artist, I would look around for a line of work that actually fed me. I mean, hell, have you ever met a starving drug pusher? My doctors have all looked well fed!

        --
        ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
    • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Friday February 16, @09:40AM

      by Nuke (3162) on Friday February 16, @09:40AM (#1344705)

      And hence you would expect these creators to be making, actually, several hours of content every day. To fulfill all their viewer's needs.

      That doesn't come free. They will want paying.

      ....

      Some of that cost me lots of money - paying many £100's per year

      Do you know what the sum total of all the user-contributions that I've ever received are? Less than $100 in 25+ years.

      Then don't do it. Keep your day job.

      I have uploaded a few videos and I get a few views and even subscribers, but I make no money and don't expect any. The videos are, I think I can say, quality technical information, and I get thanked for it. For me it is an occasional thing I do for the satisfaction of it, and I don't get carried away.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by SingularityPhoenix on Friday February 16, @03:47PM

    by SingularityPhoenix (23544) on Friday February 16, @03:47PM (#1344732)

    It became big because it was good. It got monetized because it was big. Because it was monetized, people with less understanding and passion created a lot of crap content, because its easier money. The good stuff gets drowned out, and goes away. Somewhere else is more fostering of good content, and it starts to grow, and the cycle repeats. While enshittification is more famous on the internet, I think the low cost of starting up an internet business, and the ease of moving to a different website, accelerate a process that was already occurring. I think any savvy internet user should try to be quick to switch to the new good thing, and quick to jump off the sinking ships. Google search can't find stuff anymore, the adds have taken over. There was a day when if google couldn't find it, it didn't exist. The other search engines aren't as good as google in its heyday, but no need to lament it, google isn't coming back. It was nice of them to burn cash on a good product, but imho its unethical to support them when they try to leverage their monopoly with anticompetative practices. I find enshittification cycles are longer than they used to be in the younger days of the internet. I find the web in general has enshittified. But there are still some good niches like soylent.

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