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Monetization changes were partly because of spam farms, says YouTube exec

‘A chance to remove the monetary incentive to game the system’

YouTube’s head of business, Robert Kyncl
AIB Doosra/YouTube

Logan Paul was apparently not the sole reason for YouTube’s recent changes to its monetization program.

YouTube announced in January that its Partner Program will use tougher guidelines to assess creator eligibility. Creators must now have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of accrued watch time in the past 12 months. This was a radical shift from the previous Partner Program requirements, which asked for 10,000 total lifetime channel views.

Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of business and the exec who overseas creators, told AIB Doosra’s Tanmay, a host of the popular Indian channel, that spam farms contributed to the controversial monetization changes. Creators, companies and spam farms who try to impersonate top creators and game the system for their own benefit are an ongoing problem, according to Kyncl. These bad actors attempt to steal traffic and views from legitimate creators. The company’s solution to the problem is to weed out spam farms and other impersonators through increased monetization measures.

“We can go and shut them down, but when we shut them down they restart the channels again, it’s not really all that helpful,” Kyncl said. “We had so many creators coming to us, complaining about these issues, and raising the bar on monetization gives us a chance to observe the people as they’re rising. If you’re serious about creation and you’re serous about being a creator, you’re going to make it through it.

“But this gives us a chance to remove the monetary incentive to game the system and steal the money away from creators.”

Kyncl told Tanmay the change “was all designed to protect creators,” adding he believes it will help the community in the long run. Kyncl’s recent comments are more specific than the first statement he issued about the changes. The decision to raise the Partner Program thresh hold “will allow us to significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors),” Kyncl said in January. These “higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone,” he added.

It may be confusing for some people, however, to hear Kyncl talk about spam farms. The changes to the Partner Program came just after Logan Paul’s controversies on the platform. These changes would “tackle the potential abuse of a large but disparate group of smaller channels,” Kyncl said at the time, adding that YouTube is aware of how much an impact a “bad action of a single, large channel can also have on the community.” It certainly sounded like Paul was the reason for the changes.

It now appears Paul was just a cog in the machine, along with multiple other bad actors. The demonetization issue, and the ongoing problems YouTube has with transparency, were also brought up in the interview. Kyncl addresses a longstanding rumor that videos with more than 10 minutes of content are preferred by YouTube when it comes to monetization. Kyncl scoffed at the notion, and took a second to address other rumors circling the community about people gaming YouTube’s algorithm.

“You may have a longer video, but if it doesn’t get a watch following time, it’s not going to matter,” Kyncl said. “If you have shorter videos that get watched more, then that’s going to matter. Anyone who claims, in the world, that they know what the YouTube algorithm is doing ... how can they know?”

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