By enforcing its advertiser-friendly content guidelines the video-sharing platform may end up driving revenue away from ads towards influencer marketing – writes Scott Guthrie

YouTube has just incensed many vloggers by enforcing its advertiser-friendly content guidelines.

Creators argue the Google-owned video-sharing platform is starving them of revenue by demonetizing content which doesn’t comply with the guidelines.

Content considered “not advertiser-friendly” includes, but is not limited to, sexually suggestive content, violence, inappropriate language, including profanity and vulgar language, and controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.

Influencers who post content which breaches these guidelines risk their video not being approved for monetization. Additionally YouTube reserves the right to suspend monetization features on channels that repeat offend.

PewDiePie, a gaming YouTuber with 46 million subscribers, posted a vlog on September 8th ridiculing YouTube’s advertising-friendly content guidelines.

According to YouTube, this policy isn’t new. What’s changed is the way influencers get notified of potential breaches.

Campaign, the advertising trade publication, quotes a YouTube spokesman:

“While our policy of demonetizing videos due to advertiser-friendly concerns hasn’t changed, we’ve recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication to our creators.”

Bad news for influencers relying on share of ad revenue

The enforcement of advertising-friendly content guidelines is obviously bad news for creators who create adult content for adults and who rely on a share of the pre, mid and post-roll advertising revenue as their main source of income.

YouTube is seeking to ring-fence its ad revenue by attempting to guarantee appropriate content for it to wrap advertising around. And that makes sense. Sort of. As an advertiser you don’t want your pre-roll rubbing shoulders with inappropriate content.

And this is the key: the word ‘appropriate’. Influencer marketing works best when brands spend time identifying, selecting, and nurturing long-term relationships with appropriate influencers.

Opportunity for bold brands to co-create content with influencers

Influencers are appropriate when they are the right fit, when they speak directly with the same select audience that the brand is trying to influence. When the brand and the influencer share similar values and worldview.

Influencers are influential because they consistently create compelling content that resonates with a select audience. The content resonates because it’s authentic.

For certain brands that best fit may well be with influencers who contravene YouTube’s guidelines. There do not appear to be shades of grey in the interpretation of these guidelines either. Swearing, violence and publishing content on sensitive subjects like war are all thrown into the same bucket.

Influencers, however, have grown their audiences because their opinions chime with those of their audiences.

Savvy influencer marketers know this is the secret and they let them speak. They let them speak in their voice. That’s why it’s so important for brands to ensure they’re working with the most appropriate influencer in the first place.

For bold brands who know their customer base intimately sponsoring YouTube creators to co-create influencer marketing content will be far more beneficial than paying for some pre-roll.

We hate ads. I know that. You know that. The 200 million people using adblock around the world know that. YouTube knows we hate ads, too. If it didn’t it wouldn’t bother adding a countdown timer for the number of seconds viewers have to wait until they can hit the ‘skip ad’ button before watching the content they want to watch.

By enforcing these advertiser-friendly content guidelines Google may actually be pushing creators towards brand tie-ups with influencer marketing sponsorship and away from traditional pre, mid and post-roll ad revenue.

It’s also worth noting that the advertising-friendly content guidelines are not the same as YouTube’s community guidelines. Breaking the former will lose you slice of ad revenue. Repeatedly breaking the latter will get you thrown off the platform. And, until Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Instagram or A.N.Other figure out a viable alternative for video content and revenue that could be a problem for them.

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Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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