Caspar Lee’s interview with YouTube Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl, reveals a more open and accountable YouTube.
There have been a fair few discussions about YouTube recently, from demonetisation to their treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Many of their decisions have been well publicised but the reasoning behind them has been largely unclear, until now. Recently, YouTube has taken steps to open up to the public, most notably with creators being able to interview YouTube’s CBO, Robert Kyncl. He appeared on Casey Neistat‘s channel earlier this year and, following the positive response from that interview, Robert is back to answer more questions, but this time, with Caspar Lee!
Caspar’s interview begins with the contentious issue of YouTube’s policy of spotlighting mainstream celebrities on the platform. Particularly evident on the ‘Trending’ tab, music videos and clips from late night TV shows populate it, rather than the content of homegrown YouTubers such as Caspar himself. Robert justifies YouTube’s decision: “What we’re trying to do is not reflect only what’s popular on YouTube, but also what is popular in the world, which means we’re taking a lot of inputs from everywhere, outside YouTube as well, into consideration.”
Despite the seemingly unintuitive notion of helping YouTubers gain more views by promoting mainstream celebrities on the ‘Trending’ tab, Robert brings up the point that YouTube can be overwhelming to new users with so many unfamiliar faces and video formats. Featuring familiar celebrity faces and trending topics from outside of YouTube however, helps lower the barrier to entry. Robert explains: “We have to think not only about the users we have on YouTube, but also how we acquire more users.”
The problem of demonetisation is still a highly controversial topic in the YouTube community. Caspar expressed his concerns by saying that “when my videos receive a yellow dollar sign, I feel like I get less views, is this true or is this a myth?”
Robert confidently dismisses this hypothesis, replying that: “This is a myth.” He explains there is a clear divide between the monetisation and viewership decisions as, “if you let monetisation influence viewership, over time, you start losing the audience.” This concept of YouTubers losing their audience in their pursuit to create safe advertisement-friendly videos was been talked about in depth by Gary C in his recent YouTube Culture video.
Pressed on the issue of demonetisation being the result of YouTube favouring advertisers over creators, Robert reaffirms his commitment to the benefit of everyone on the platform. Linking his hands together, he says: “My job is to basically make sure that the ecosystem of creators, users, and advertisers is like this. Sometimes there is conflict, but it’s up to us to arbitrate that conflict and figure that out,” he says.
Responding to smaller creators’ concerns about the changes to the Partnership Programme, Robert mentions “monetisation abuse” and that this move was to remove the economic incentive for impersonating and copying other creators’ videos. He adds that: “99% of all creators affected by that were making less than $100 per year.”
Speaking about creators abusing the platform, Robert used the suspension of Logan Paul‘s monetisation as an example of steps YouTube can take. “We’re very incentivised to take all this very seriously,” he added.
While many have been less than pleased with YouTube’s recent decisions, like the changes to the Partnership Programme and prioritising traditional celebrities over YouTubers in the Trending tab, it’s clear that they are trying to be more open about the reasoning behind them.