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YouTube exploring non-ad-based monetization opportunities

‘We understand that it’s been a frustrating period’

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As monetization issues continue to plague the YouTube community, the company is exploring new opportunities to introduce new ways for creators to profit off their videos without relying on advertising.

Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s head of gaming, told Polygon the company is working on seeing if there are opportunities to take monetization strategies from the livestreaming section of the site and apply that to video on demand (VOD). On the streaming side, Wyatt said the company is “doubling down on efforts to make products that are non-ads” and there’s potential for that to work on the VOD side of YouTube, which is still predominantly what the site is used for.

“VOD gaming is so much bigger than live gaming,” Wyatt said. “How do we serve that audience with other ways they can monetize outside of advertising?”

YouTubers have seen some of these methods in action — like Super Chat, which allows viewers to pay an additional fee to pin a message. Wyatt wouldn’t go into detail on what those non-ad monetization routes look like, but based on the way YouTube handles livestreaming, a more interactive experience for viewers isn’t out of the question. Subscribers may be able to pay an additional fee to send their favorite creator a message, or just pay a subscription fee to support that channel.

There isn’t too much detail about how the new methods would work, if implemented. But Wyatt noted that the way to a better relationship between the YouTube community and the company is through transparency over what gets monetized. The issue, Wyatt said, is that “generally speaking, we’re a search platform and we’re algorithmically driven.” While that means “an incredible amount of time and energy goes into making sure the viewing experience is better,” YouTube needs to work with creators on appealing videos that get dinged while the algorithm gets better.

“We hear their complaints, and we are working every day inside to make it a better environment for the creators to monetize,” Wyatt said. “We ask creators that when they feel like a video has been wrongly demonetized, they request for it to be reviewed.”

Wyatt touched upon the issue a little further, explaining that videos need to appeal to advertisers because the companies are the ones spending money on the platform. Trying to find the balance between what advertisers need from the company and what creators want to see happen on the monetization side can be tricky. This year has been one of the most severe for the company, following the “adocalypse” that happened after a string of questionable and hateful videos carried advertisements from major YouTube advertisers, which Wyatt is more than aware of.

“You have to be able to appeal to advertisers because they’re the ones who are speeding money, and we want to empower advertisers,” Wyatt said. “That’s how creators are able to monetize. We understand that it’s been a frustrating period and working time, we do.

“We take it very seriously when it comes to creators’ monetization and we continue to try and improve upon it.”

Still, Wyatt said the best way to stay on top of what’s happening right now, while the algorithm is being figured out and new methods of monetization are being explored, is to communicate with the team. Wyatt said through speaking to creators, they better understand what their community wants and how they can make those changes.

“At the end of the day, we want to be able to be as transparent as possible with all creators on YouTube with why a video may have been demonetized,” Wyatt said. “We do that in a variety of ways; through help centers, partnership programs, and one-on-one conversations. We’re continuing to come up with way that we can be more transparent to a community and we are working toward better transparency.”

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