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The Evolution of Youtube as a Source of Revenue

October 21, 2016
Youtube

Since my last post about YouTube, a lot has changed.  YouTube still continues to be a good source of quality shows/vlogs with little influence from mass marketers.  However some channels are changing and I don’t think many people have noticed yet.  The manufacturing and retail industry are trying to influence channels into advertising for them and it is having a noticable imact on the quality of the content some channels are producing.

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YouTube Monetization

YouTube started as a good source of income for original content creators and the creators would get rewarded with advertising revenue if they monetized their videos.  Channels with a large enough viewership could earn a living wage.

Fundraising

For many YouTube content creators this was the next step in monetizing their channel.  It quickly gained a bad nickname of ebegging.  Many Youtubers would use services like gofundme.com to generate revenue.  In some cases revenue was being raised for a special “upgrade” item like a new 4K camera, for others it was just to pay for day to day costs like gas and food.

Patrons

Using patron services like Patrion.com started the next stage of fundraising, by creating a tiered service.  Users that donated would get something in return.  Sometimes it would be insider videos, early access to videos, and sometimes other social media content/access.  This was typically viewed more positively as viewers were getting something in return for their donation

Selling items

Another way that YouTube channels would generate additional revenue would be to sell T-shirts, Stickers, music, and ebooks  on sites like bandcamp.com.  YouTubers would use this both for one time fundraising as well as to supplement their revenue with all profits going to their channel.

Referral programs

Another option for YouTube channels is doing referrals.  The Amazon Affiliate program is the most common source for this type of revenue generation.  The channel will create special links to Amazon for products they use or endorse like a specific GoPro camera.  Whenever a viewer follows the link to Amazon and makes a purchase, the channel will receive a few percent of the sale price.

Product reviews/Product Endorsements/Commercials

This is the newest phase in revenues generation and the one having the biggest negative impact on channel quality.  As people become more popular on YouTube, retailers and manufacturers recognize these channels as a good way to improve their product recognition.  In exchange for a favourable review Youtubers are being given free stuff.  In some cases doing a good review will result in continued additional stuff from the company.  This is not a direct source of income, but is more of a form of bribery.  The problem is that in more and more cases, the reviews do not appear unbiased as one bad review would end the gravy train.  Other reviews are for expensive products that seem to have no relevance to the channel.  Finally the most blatant is, special episodes created to be no more than a commercial for the product.  This form of revenue generation is just an obvious form of bribery and makes YouTube and its content creators appear no better than the big TV networks that most people escaped from by going to Youtube in the first place.

Here is a list of some of the outdoor adventure related YouTube channels I follow that seem to be uninterested in turning their day to day vlog into the next overproduced version of Survivor or turning their channel into the next NBC.

Nomadic Fanatic:  This is one of the biggest RV channels and Eric regularly has mentioned his desire to not be bought.  He will fundraise and sell stickers from time to time

Gone with the Wynns: They seem to be adventure purists and do not try to sell their adventure.

Sailing SV Delos:  They seem to be enjoying life too much to bother wasting time doing reviews.  They do sell shirts and accept donations though.

Some other channels have taken the bait and it has hurt the integrity of their channel.  In one case, a very popular female travel vlogger recently did an episode featuring a female hygiene product.  The episode featured her dancing on a mountain and talking about the product, it was in reality just a commercial.  There is also an RV channel that features their adventures on the road and in Alaska, but he is constantly trying to find ways to make more money.  It sometimes comes off as desperate and that YouTube is just a job.   Another RV channel that is very popular to Airstream owners had recently done a review on a RV cleaning product while claiming that car wash soap is not safe for RV’s.  I was not able to find any science to this claim which made the claim seem like a slimy marketing tactic meant to sell the RV cleaner.   There is another RV channel that features a Canadian couple who travel to the US South West every winter.  They recently admitted that a major and expensive reno they did on their RV was funded by the product manufacturer.  They did a number of episodes covering the upgrade last winter and never mentioned that it was being funded by a company.  There is also an off grid channel that seems to get frequent repeat product reviews for the same few companies and all of the reviews are superficial and gushing reviews.

I suspect people will start to realize good YouTube content from infomercials in vlog format.  My prediction is that the Youtube channels that have sold their name to product endorsements will likely find that they have reached their peak on Youtube and growth will start to slow down for them with new growth on Youtube being driven by the channels that do not or minimally/honestly endorse products.

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From → RV Tech

One Comment
  1. Nice one Rob, useful and informative review, thanks

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