In her latest interview with a YouTube creator, CEO Susan Wojcicki chats with Vlogbrothers’ Hank Green to discuss advertising, coronavirus-based misinformation and how the platform is supporting creators.
Introducing the conversation and providing ‘proper context’, Hank says: “It’s important in moments like this, when we’re talking to powerful people, that we recognise all of the different inputs that might be going into how we are communicating, and what questions we’re asking them and et cetera.”
The interview, which lasts for more than 50 minutes, begins with a discussion around coronavirus, misinformation and YouTube’s role in the crisis. “We immediately felt that we played an important role in getting out valuable health information,” Susan explains. “If YouTube does one thing really well, it’s getting the word out to our global audience [of] over 2 billion users. Just the scale that we operate, we know that we can do that effectively.”
Continuing the discussion around credible content, Hank went on to express his worry about it being “so much power for one organisation to have, figuring out where the line is”, adding that he worries that “it feeds into the conspiracy mindset for one organisation have that level of influence”.
Responding to this, Susan says YouTube sees it as a pretty competitive landscape. “We’ve seen Facebook being very aggressive in video, not just on the Facebook properties but Instagram, for example,” she explains, mentioning other platforms such as TikTok and Quibi. “We see this as a very competitive space and there are many opportunities for people to have their content contributed.”
It’s an idea which Hank expands upon in the video description, in which he writes: “YouTube, the company, has a massive amount of power, not just over viewers and creators, but over society. It’s easy to say that there’s plenty of competition in this world, but I do want to say that, first, that’s not really true.
“And second, it does not mean that they don’t have a massive amount of power…only that, I suppose, it may be eventually possible for them to lose it.”
Asked about what she admires about short-form video platform TikTok, Susan replies by talking about people creating content on their mobiles. “Definitely the mobile creation is an area that makes sense and brought down the ease of creation,” she says, “and we certainly have mobile tools but certainly, the way they’ve developed them definitely has been compelling for users.”
She went on to reveal that she has a subscription to Quibi, the new streaming platform which provides users with content with a running time of 10 minutes or less, adding that they’ve also had “some really nice innovations” in short-form mobile content.
The conversation later moves on to advertising and revenue, with Hank asking Susan how many creators are earning five to six figures on the platform. The CEO replies by saying that the information isn’t released by YouTube, but they have released the growth rate, with a 40% increase this year over last year.
On managing challenges between the advertising and creator communities, such as demonetisation, brand safety and brand suitability, Susan says: “I think one thing that creators don’t understand well enough is just that advertisers can leave easily. Advertisers also have lots of options, and they can go to all to all different types of media companies.”
“I think the creator community somewhat doesn’t understand some of the fragility with the advertisers,” she continues. “We’ve been working really, really hard to bring back all of our advertisers after brand safety and make sure they feel confident and keep spending.”
The discussion of brand safety comes after multiple organisations pulled advertisements from YouTube in 2017 over concerns their content was appearing alongside extremist material. The decision by several advertisers was dubbed the ‘adpocalypse’ by members of the YouTube community and media.
She adds that she thinks the platform has been really successful in bringing advertisers back to the site, but recognises that there’s still a lot of frustration and that YouTube needs to “continue to do more”.
“Part of what we saw with brand safety is that sometimes advertisers came back, but they were spending less than they were spending beforehand, or they were spending in a more restricted way,” she says.
The topic leads into Hank’s recent tweet about CPM (cost per mille) on YouTube, which represents “how much money advertisers are spending to show ads on YouTube”. Several creators responded to report a decline in their figure.
Susan confirms that she has seen the post, and commenting on why the numbers may have decreased, she says that financial information is sensitive, but “two different things could influence [CPM]”.
“Depending upon if you have more advertising, and the same number of views, then you’re going to have your CPMs go up, because your numerator goes up,” she explains. “You also can have your denominator go up – so you have a lot more views but the same amount of advertising – that would also cause your CPMs to go down, even though your advertising is the same.
“Or you can have your total advertising go down, and your views go up. So there’s many different scenarios in terms of how the mechanics of this work,” she says.
The video concludes with Hank saying he is thankful for people watching this video even if they aren’t YouTubers. “We have to be citizens of the world, citizens of our country and also citizens of the internet, because we live here now. It happened, it’s too late to change it,” he says.
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