Letter from Susan: Our 2022 Priorities
The past few years have been a transition for all of us. We've adapted to changes in our lives we couldn't have imagined before the pandemic. Along the way, we've seen incredible growth in the YouTube community. Creators are coming to our platform to share their lives, to make a living, and to shape the world around us in meaningful ways. They're bringing us together to do good in the world. We saw the impact of these efforts last year when MrBeast and Mark Rober launched Team Seas to raise funds to remove 30 million pounds of trash from our oceans, beaches, and rivers.
At YouTube, we're focused on growing our platform in the year ahead. Today I want to check in with an update on our key priorities: the state of the creator economy, innovation, supporting the work of creators, and protecting the YouTube community.
The State of the Creator Economy
We’re committed to growing our creator ecosystem
We’ve now hit 5 trillion all time views on Shorts!
More people are creating content on YouTube than ever before. We’re seeing momentum across the platform, including on Shorts. We’ve now hit 5 trillion all time views on Shorts!
Creators are helping us learn, keeping us entertained, and also significantly impacting the global economy. The number of channels around the world making more than $10,000 a year is up 40 percent year over year.
And a series of reports from Oxford Economics has shown the impact of the creator economy. In 2020, as people around the world adapted to changing circumstances around the pandemic, YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported more than 800,000 jobs in 2020 in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and the EU combined.
Additional sources of revenue
Last year, YouTube Channel Memberships and paid digital goods were purchased or renewed more than 110 million times.
When I first started at YouTube, there was only one way for a creator to make money on the platform: ads. We’ve been working over the years to expand the opportunities available to creators to connect with their audiences. Now there are 10 ways for creators to make money on YouTube!
And we’re seeing creators around the world benefit from these expanded opportunities. More creators are earning money from our non-ads products like Super Chat and Channel Memberships than ever before. Last year, YouTube Channel Memberships and paid digital goods were purchased or renewed more than 110 million times.
The effects of this growth are felt around the world. For example, YouTube channels in South Korea last month earned over 50 percent more revenue from Channel Memberships compared to December 2020. This includes creator and teacher Hwang Hyeon-pil whose Korean history channel offers channel members special videos, news, and lectures. Last year, Hwang grew his number of channel members to over 10,000 - an increase of more than 500 percent!
We’re also excited about opportunities in areas like podcasting, which enable creators to monetize and expand the reach of their distribution. As podcast usage continues to grow, we expect it to be an integral part of the creator economy.
We’re also looking further ahead to the future and have been following everything happening in Web3 as a source of inspiration to continue innovating on YouTube. The past year in the world of crypto, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and even decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) has highlighted a previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans. We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube.
New features to improve the creator experience
As we innovate and build for the future of YouTube, we’re also working to support our creator community. We’re giving creators more control. We launched pre-publish checks last year, which allow creators to find out if there’s a problem with copyright or ad-suitability before hitting publish.
We’re also working behind the scenes to look hard at our policies and make sure we’re drawing the line in the right place. Last year we updated our advertiser-friendly guidelines to allow additional content to monetize while still maintaining advertiser industry standards.
Creators have also asked for more details so they can better understand about policy violations. We’re hiring more people so we can expand our experiment to provide creators more specifics about policy violations, like timestamps. We’re looking forward to developing this effort further.
We’re building the YouTube of the future
As we look ahead, we’re focused on innovation. These are a few of the areas we’re investing in this year:
We’re working every day to improve how we help creators get started and reach an audience faster on Shorts. Last year, we started rolling out a new remix feature that lets you create Shorts using audio from other YouTube videos. In the months ahead we’ll expand this capability with even more exciting ways to remix YouTube’s content.
And we’re giving creators ways to make money on Shorts through the Shorts Fund, which is now available in more than 100 countries. The Shorts Fund is helping to enable new creators. Over 40 percent of creators who received payment from the Fund last year weren't in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). This year, we’re testing out new ways for Shorts creators to build branded content through BrandConnect, our program that matches creators with brands.
Last year was an incredible year for Music on YouTube. We passed a huge milestone in 2021 - YouTube now has more than 50 million Music and Premium subscribers, including trialers. And last spring we announced that YouTube paid more than $4 billion to the music industry over the previous 12 months.
We’re continuing to connect artists with their fans around the world, including major moments like BLACKPINK’s first-ever livestream concert experience and the BTS Permission to Dance Shorts Challenge.
We’ve seen incredible strides in the evolution of gaming on YouTube, from immersive storytelling to the world’s biggest esports finding a home on our platform. In the first half of 2021 alone, YouTube saw over 800 billion gaming-related views, over 90 million hours live streamed, and over 250 million uploads.
YouTube stands apart from other platforms because it offers a single destination for gaming creators to tell their stories across multiple video formats: livestreaming, VOD, and Shorts. That’s why last year we were thrilled to bring top creators Ludwig, DrLupo, and TimTheTatman to stream exclusively on YouTube and to build even further on their VOD content ambitions. We want to improve the live experience for all creators, as well as viewers. In particular, we’re focusing on better live discoverability and more chat features. And our teams are working to make it even easier for creators and users to create gaming-related Shorts. Coming up this year, we’ll also roll out one of our top-requested features, Gifted Memberships.
We’re investing to make YouTube the next generation of commerce. We’ve introduced a creator tagging pilot program that gives viewers the chance to browse, learn about, and shop products featured in their favorite videos. We're also in the early phases of testing how shopping can be integrated with Shorts.
More and more, we see creators going live to review products, drop new merch, and discuss their shopping hauls. Creator Simply Nailogical used our newest live shopping tools to launch her latest nail polish collection last summer. By making her videos shoppable and tagging her newest products, fans were able to collectively explore the collection live and shop without having to leave the stream. The first livestream was such a success that she’s used it for every new collection since!
We’ve been testing live shopping in the U.S., South Korea, and Brazil. And this year we’ll bring shopping to more creators and brands by partnering with commerce platforms like Shopify as we build a more interactive and entertaining experience for users.
People come to YouTube every day to learn, whether it's for help with homework, to explore a new interest, or to develop skills to start a new career. Creators and educational organizations are using our platform to help make learning more accessible. Last year, we launched the Mi Aula channels in México and Argentina in partnership with UNESCO to provide students with videos that support the secondary curriculum in their countries. And later this year we'll extend this effort to students in Brazil through the YouTube Edu channel.
We’re committed to doubling the number of users who engage with educational content on YouTube, and we’re working toward that goal with new product features that will connect viewers with better ways to learn.
Climate change is a critical issue for all of us, and this year we’ll increase our support of environmentally-focused creators to amplify positive climate content on our platform. It was amazing to see creators like Jack Harries and Sejal Kumar attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) last year, helping to make COP26 accessible to everyone. We’re committed as a company to work toward a more sustainable future.
Supporting the Work of Creators
Thoughts on the dislikes update
We heard from many of you about the removal of public dislike counts on YouTube, and I know this decision was controversial. Some of you mentioned dislikes helped you decide what videos to watch. However, people dislike videos for many reasons, including some that have nothing to do with the video, which means it’s not always an accurate way to select videos to watch. That’s why dislikes were never shown on the home page, search results, or Up Next screens where users were most likely to choose a video.
We want every creator to feel they can express themselves without harassment.
We also saw the dislike count harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively worked to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos. These attacks often targeted smaller creators and those just getting started. We want every creator to feel they can express themselves without harassment. So we experimented with removing the dislike count across millions of videos over many months. Every way we looked at it, we did not see a meaningful difference in viewership, regardless of whether or not there was a public dislike count. And importantly, it reduced dislike attacks.
Creators will still be able to find their dislike counts in YouTube Studio if they find it a helpful metric, and viewers can still dislike videos to inform their recommendations.
Our commitment to racial justice, equity, and product inclusion
#YouTubeBlack Voices Fund
Last year, 133 creators and artists from seven countries joined the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund Class of 2021. I recently spoke with a creator from the inaugural class, KevOnStage, and it was great to hear his experience in the program. We’re also continuing to develop and support content that centers Black voices, stories, and culture. Since launching the Fund, we've released 12 projects, including Bear Witness, Take Action Pt. 3 and Onyx Family Dinner.
Our Creator Demographics survey is now available in Studio so creators in the United States can voluntarily share their gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity. This information will help us make sure our policies and products are working for everyone, and we're looking forward to expanding this effort to more countries this year.
Creators showing up for their communities
Dozens of creators joined our celebrations during Pride month last year to raise money for The Trevor Project, And last year Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys made a powerful documentary, We Need To Talk About Anti-Asian Hate. He also joined Jay Shetty, Asia Jackson, and other creators and activists in the YouTube Originals’ Recipe for Change to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander (API) culture.
Protecting the YouTube Community
It’s our top priority to live up to our responsibility
Underlying all of our efforts to innovate and support our creators is a commitment to responsibly protecting our community. Tackling misinformation and other harmful content is a top priority. In the last few years, we’ve transformed our ability to enforce our policies at scale through investments in machine learning. Last year we released a new metric in our Community Guidelines Enforcement Report, the Violative View Rate (VVR). VVR tracks what percentage of views on YouTube comes from content that violates our policies. In Q3 of 2021, YouTube’s violative view rate was 0.09 to 0.11 percent, which means that out of every 10,000 views on YouTube, 9 to 11 came from violative content. The rate fell by more than 70 percent between 2017 and Q3 2021.
We’re also working to reduce content in recommendations that comes right up against our policy lines but doesn’t cross it. We aim to keep views of this “borderline” content under 0.5 percent of views on YouTube. Finally, we place equal importance on the work we do to connect people with information from authoritative sources on important topics like news and health.
As we've made these changes over the past few years, we also heard increased calls for transparency. We want to enable more exploration of these topics in the future, and are working on a plan to make more information available to researchers.
We believe kids deserve an even higher level of protection
As the mom of five kids, the safety of kids online is always on my mind. In collaboration with child development specialists, we’re developing experiences for everyone on YouTube and setting standards that protect kids appropriately at every stage of life.
We launched YouTube Kids six years ago to create a space for children under 13 that gives them access to age appropriate videos. Last year, we brought supervised experiences to parents of tweens who believe their kids are ready to explore YouTube. We also rolled out new protections for people under 18, such as defaulting uploads to private, turning on digital well-being protections, turning autoplay off and blocking ad targeting for these users. This year, we’ll continue to improve the quality of our content for kids.
The Regulatory Landscape
We’ll continue to reach out to government officials to discuss issues that are a priority for viewers, creators, and artists on our platform. It’s important that policymakers understand how their decisions could impact the growing creator economy.
As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal, we support regulation. After all, we currently comply with regulation in countries across the globe. But we also have concerns about new regulation that could have unintended consequences that would impact the creator community, particularly around the regulation of legal speech. Here are a few of the priority issues on the horizon for this year:
DSA: I’ve mentioned previously that the proposed Digital Services Act (DSA) in the European Union could have implications for online speech. After two years, the legislation is moving into the final stages and we are engaging with stakeholders to support a unified digital consumer protection framework across Member States that still allows YouTube to best serve our users.
Article 17: We continue to work with the member states of the European Union as they incorporate Article 17 (previously Article 13) of the EU copyright directive into local laws. Throughout the process, creator engagement has made a difference. Thank you for everything you’ve done to help ensure the law would be workable.
This year, we’ll work with policymakers around the world to advocate on behalf of the YouTube community.
At YouTube, we look forward to what lies ahead. We're focused on supporting the creators and artists who make YouTube their home and the people around the world who come to our platform every day to make their lives a little brighter.
We can’t wait to see what you’ll create next.