In response to advertiser concerns, YouTube is making changes to the YouTube Partners Program that will raise the bar for smaller channels to monetize their videos.

The current requirement for a channel to run ads is reaching 10,000 lifetime total views. Starting Feb. 20, channels are required to have 1,000 active subscribers and 4,000 hours of time watched on their videos per year to be eligible for enrollment in the YouTube Partners Program.

“It’s been clear over the last few months that we need the right requirements and better signals to identify the channels that have earned the right to run ads,” wrote Google in its Adwords blog. “Instead of basing acceptance purely on views, we want to take channel size, audience engagement, and creator behavior into consideration to determine eligibility for ads.”

Unfortunately for most channels that were previously monetized, if they don’t meet the new criteria within a 30-day grace period they will lose monetization eligibility and be removed from the YouTube Partners Program.

YouTube stated 99 percent of the channels that will be affected by the change make less than $100 a year from monetization and more than 90 percent of channels affected have made less than $2.50 in the last month. The platform also reported that the number of channels that make over six figures are up by 40 percent when compared year-over-year.

“This combination of hard-to-game user signals and improved abuse indicators will help us reward the creators who make engaging content while preventing bad actors and spammers from gaming the system in order to monetize unsuitable content,” wrote Google in its Adwords blog. “While this new approach will affect a significant number of channels eligible to run ads, the creators who will remain part of YPP represent more than 95% of YouTube’s reach for advertisers.”

The monetization announcement happened shortly after famous YouTuber Logan Paul uploaded a video that displayed the body of a suicide victim in the Aokigahara Suicide Forest, resulting in his removal from the Google Preferred Program, but YouTube claims the change in monetization requirements was made months ago in response to advertisers wanting more control in how their advertisements are displayed on the platform.

Throughout 2017 advertisers boycotted YouTube due to inappropriate content that included terrorism videos and young children targeted by pedophiles. Ad revenue severely dropped for many channels as YouTube relied on an automated system which flagged videos and demonetized them with questionable accuracy.

According to Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, the platform has succeeded in the following accomplishments through the use of machine learning algorithms:

  • Removed 150,000 videos for violent extremism;
  • Removed nearly five times as many videos through machine learning;
  • Taken down nearly 70 percent of violent extremist content within eight hours of upload and nearly half of it within two hours; and
  • Reviewed and flagged content that would have taken 180,000 people working 40 hours a week to assess.

To ensure even greater quality assurance, YouTube has assigned human moderators to review the top 5 percent most-viewed channels in the Google Preferred program, a top-tier advertising program that offers popular YouTubers higher ad revenue and bid prices.

The platform also plans to launch a three-tiered “suitability system” that allows for advertisers to reflect their view of appropriate placements  for their brand, while understanding potential reach tradeoffs.

“We are taking these actions because it’s the right thing to do. Creators make incredible content that builds global fan bases. Fans come to YouTube to watch, share, and engage with this content,” wrote Wojcicki. “Advertisers, who want to reach those people, fund this creator economy. Each of these groups is essential to YouTube’s creative ecosystem—none can thrive on YouTube without the other—and all three deserve our best efforts.”

What are your thoughts on the changes in criteria to be part of the YouTube Partners Program? Let me know in the comments below!