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Inside YouTube

An update on our 2018 priorities

By Susan Wojcicki

CEO, YouTube

Dear YouTube Creators,

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a letter to you outlining five key priorities for YouTube in 2018. Among those priorities was to communicate more frequently with all of you, and in that spirit, I plan to share updates with the creator community every quarter.

As you can imagine, the last two weeks have been incredibly difficult for the people who work at YouTube, myself included. As challenging as the experience has been for our YouTube family, the outpouring of support and kindness from creators has bolstered our spirits and reminded us why this work is so important.

We know the last year has not been easy for many of you. But we’re committed to listening and using your feedback to help YouTube thrive. Our community continues to grow at a healthy, responsible rate. Over the last year, channels earning five figures annually grew more than 35 percent, while channels earning six figures annually grew more than 40 percent. While we’re proud of this progress, I know we have more work to do.

1. Transparency and Communication

At the beginning of the year, we committed to communicate more with all of you through social media. This year, we increased our replies 600 percent and improved our reply rate by 75 percent to tweets addressed across our official handles: @TeamYouTube, @YTCreators, and @YouTube. We've also more than doubled the number of creators receiving personalized update emails. We’re communicating in unofficial ways too, like Creator Insider, an employee-run channel that offers behind-the-scenes information about things we are working on.

The YouTube leadership team has also made it a priority to connect with YouTube audiences across the globe. At SXSW, Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music, delivered a speech about his life serving artists and the role YouTube plays for them today and in the future. Robert Kyncl, our Chief Business Officer, sat down with Casey Neistat and later took questions from YouTube Creator Noor Stars. This is just the beginning.

2. Supporting your success

When it comes to creators, supporting your growth and success is incredibly important to me and my entire team. In February, we made the tough decision to set a new eligibility criteria to monetize on YouTube. While we know some creators found this change frustrating, it strengthened advertiser confidence, making monetization and the broader community on YouTube stronger for creators building their business on the platform. For those who have not yet met the new threshold, keep creating and building your audience. We have resources to help you learn and grow. We’ve also heard from you that delays in the application process are frustrating. We are working to make this faster.

We know that it’s frustrating when the monetization icon changes back-and-forth between green and yellow. In February, we released an update to our systems to improve overall accuracy and significantly decrease icon flip-flopping by 90 percent. Hopefully, many of you have already noticed this. On our side, we’re seeing that the volume of monetization appeals is down 50 percent as a result.

Many of you have said you’re willing to provide more feedback on what’s in your video if it meant you didn’t have to worry about false-positives in our monetization system. This month, we’re launching a pilot with a small set of creators to test a new video upload flow that will ask creators to provide specific information about what’s in their video as it relates to our advertiser-friendly guidelines. In an ideal world, we’ll eventually get to a state where creators across the platform are able to accurately represent what’s in their videos so that their insights, combined with those of our algorithmic classifiers and human reviewers, will make the monetization process much smoother with fewer false positive demonetizations.

Creators have also told us they want more alternatives to make money beyond ads. We recently began testing sponsorships with a limited set of creators. This lets fans set up recurring sponsorships that can help fund their favorite creators. Many sponsored creators saw substantial increases in their overall YouTube revenue, so we plan to expand this to many more creators in the coming months.

3. Giving people more ways to engage

We know that engaging with your fans is important, so we’re working on new tools to encourage the conversation.

  1. We expanded Community to many more creators, and we’ve been fine tuning how and to whom posts are distributed across your Home and Subscribers feed. We’ve greatly improved ranking and targeting to make sure we are showing the right posts to the right users at the right time.
  2. We updated live streaming features to make it easier to go live and interact with your fans. We added live chat replays, automatic captions and location tags, and we expanded Super Chats to include an IFTTT (If This, Then That) function.
  3. We also launched YouTube Go in over 140 countries. This is a version of the YouTube app built for the next billion users and designed for people in places with poor Internet connectivity or expensive cellular data.

4. Tightening and enforcing our policies

One of the biggest challenges we face is balancing the freedom of expression with our responsibility as a community. We value the incredible diversity of voices on our platform and want to focus our policy changes on where we believe there can be real harm. In February, we announced new steps, beyond our existing strikes system, that we may take in the rare event that one creator’s actions risk harming the entire community. Our goal is to strengthen the community, and we hope to rarely use these new steps.

We’ve heard great creator feedback on how we can address abuse on the platform, especially when it comes to comments and spam. Through new comment moderation tools, we’ve given creators the power to review comments before they’re public. We’ve seen more than a 75 percent drop in comment flags on the channels that have enabled it, and we’re soon planning to expand this to 10 languages. We’ve done the same for live chat, allowing creators to hold inappropriate live chat messages for review in all languages.

5. Learning and education

YouTube is an incredible force for good, particularly when it comes to education. This month, we saw the power of learning on YouTube through the hashtag #YouTubeTaughtMe. For instance, a dad in New York said he used YouTube to both bake a cake and study for his paramedic exams while a number of creators tweeted that YouTube helped them to feel more comfortable being their true selves.

Finally, we’re working to make sure that our free educational resources, including the Creator Academy, are focused on the topics of most interest to you. We launched a Creator Academy Master Class about creator burnout, and we're hosting a talk at VidCon on ways creators can maintain well-being. We’re also working on other courses for early summer to encourage wellness.

Looking forward

Every day I am inspired by the power of the YouTube community--and your support over the last two weeks has reinforced that. Our entire team is committed to your success and your input informs every step we take. Please continue to let us know what we can do better.