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YouTube ‘demonetization,’ explained for normals

The Great YouTube Ad Freakout Of Late August 2016, explained.

PewDiePie, YouTube’s most popular video maker
Suhaimi Abdullah / Getty

WTF is “demonetization” and why is it a thing this week on YouTube?

Whether you are a person who makes YouTube videos or just a person who watches YouTube videos, you may still be confused, despite earnest explainer efforts.

So here is a good explainer. It comes from the Internet Creators Guild, a new group founded by YouTube vet (and YouTube defender) Hank Green.

You should read it, because, again, it is good. But if you are distracted for some reason, here’s a temporary tl;dr:

  • Since 2012, YouTube has been automatically “demonetizing” (yep, a word YouTube insists on using) some videos because its software thought the content was unfriendly for advertisers.
  • Many YouTube video makers didn’t realize this until last week, when YouTube began actively telling them about it.
  • This has freaked YouTubers out, even though YouTube has been behaving rationally by trying to connect advertisers to advertiser-friendly content. It’s not censorship, since YouTube video makers can still post (just about) anything they want.
  • YouTube’s software will screw things up, which means videos that should have ads don’t, which means YouTube video makers have been missing out on ad revenue.
  • YouTube should try to improve.

Unrelated: We’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of Google’s $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube, which remains one of the best digital acquisitions ever. Facebook’s Instagram buy may be its only real contender. But feel free to chime in with others.

Anyway, here’s the timeless video YouTube co-founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley made when they announced the deal.