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YouTube’s CEO Provides an Update on Monetization Tools, Copystrikes and Content Guidelines



YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has this week posted her final quarterly update of the year, covering developments in copyright claims, monetization processes, platform rules and more.

And this time – in what seems like an entirely logic and on-brand move – Wojcicki ​has posted the update as a video on the site:

Wojcicki first notes that the YouTube economy is growing:

“Compared to last year, the number of creators with a million or more subscribers has grown 65%, and creators earning five or six figures, annually, has increased more than 40%.”

It’s amazing to consider the amount of money being generated by YouTube creators – did you know, for example, that this kid earns $22 million a year from his YouTube toy reviews?

It’s enough to make you question your life choices, right?

Jokes aside, creating entertaining, engaging content is a skill, and that not everyone is able to do. And in addition to having some level of natural ability, you also have to actually do it. It’s easy to look at something like ‘Ryan’s World’ and think to yourself ‘I could do that’, but it’s another to invest the time and effort into creating and posting content consistently.

But then again, as noted by Wojcicki, more people are doing just that. Maybe it’s time for you to actually kick off that YouTube channel you’ve always wanted to get going.

But YouTube monetization isn’t always a straightforward process. One of the biggest headaches for creators in recent times has been copyright strikes – if an entity claims that you’ve used their music or content in some way within your video, YouTube’s processes, in the last few years, have enabled them to claim any revenue generated from that video as a result.

This system has lead to many frustrations and issues, something that Wojcicki recognizes, and says they’re moving to fix:

“A few months ago, we made changes that removed the financial incentive to claim very short and unintentional music use. We also required timestamps for all manual claims so you know exactly which part of your video is being claimed, and made updates to our editing tools so you can easily remove manually claimed content from your videos.”

There’s still a way to go, but these changes show that YouTube is listening to its creators on this front.

Wojcicki has also detailed their improved monetization options, providing additional financial incentive to keep people posting.

“Thousands of channels have more than doubled their YouTube revenue by using new features that help fans engage with creators, like Super Chat, Channel Memberships, and Merchandise. More than 100,000 channels have received Super Chat, and some streams are earning more than $400 per minute as fans reach out to creators to say hello, send congratulations, or just to connect.”

Super Chat, which enables fans to purchase credits to have their comments featured more prominently in live-streams, follows the model set by Chinese streaming providers, where live-streaming has become a massive business. YouTube recently added Super Stickers to expand on the potential of Super Chat – which doesn’t seem like a huge element of YouTube monetization, but is clearly generating significant results for those that are using it. 

Wojcicki ​also says that YouTube’s variation of the Stories format is also helping creators build audience:

“Over the last year, creators who used an active Story on their channel saw an average increase to their subscriber count of more than eight percent compared to creators without Stories.”

I mean, everyone’s on the Stories train now, why not YouTube? It could be another option to consider for those looking to boost their on-platform performance.

Wojcicki says that YouTube’s also looking to add in new advertising options which will enable brands to reach users who are viewing content that’s more controversial, and may not adhere to brand safety rules.

“We’re also running experiments to help match content that could be considered edgy with advertising that fits their brand. As you know, yellow icons are a signal that only limited advertising can run on a particular video because of its content. We’re working to identify advertisers who are interested in edgier content, like a marketer looking to promote an R-rated movie, so we can match them with creators whose content fits their ads.”

YouTube tightened up its brand controls last year after significant backlash related to ad placement alongside controversial content. Now YouTube’s looking to build more options to improve its capacity in this respect, which may open up more opportunities. 

Wojcicki​ also notes that YouTube will look to expand its Self-Certification pilot to more creators in 2020, while it’s also working on improvements to its harassment guidelines and the ways in which it gathers data from and children’s content​.

Interestingly, YouTube has also now started to roll out its new labels on state-backed media uploads, another area where the platform is looking to improve transparency.

YouTube state-backed media warning

There are some interesting updates here, detailing how YouTube is working to improve its systems and create a more effective, engaging space for creators and users alike. And there’s a lot to like about its creator eco-system. While other digital platforms are working to tap into the rose of online video, the maturity of YouTube’s monetization program puts it a step ahead, which will likely see it continue to attract and retain top creators – and consequently, slow the expansion of alternative options.


Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say



Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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