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Inside YouTube

Responsibility is good for business and for the creator economy

  • By Neal Mohan
  • Chief Product Officer, YouTube
  • Aug.23.2021
Responsibility is good for business and for the creator economy
As we cross the milestone of two million creators in our monetization program, we’re bringing you behind the scenes of our efforts to help an entirely new creative economy thrive.

Millions of creators across the globe use YouTube to find a community, reach a global audience and build a business. In order to protect this vibrant community, we’ve developed a responsibility framework that includes: removing violative content, raising authoritative voices and reducing borderline content, and rewarding trusted creators. As we cross the milestone of two million creators in our monetization program, we’re bringing you behind the scenes of our efforts to help an entirely new creative economy thrive.

Now, more than two million creators participate in YPP globally, including many who might not otherwise have had a platform, from tech reviewers to entertainers.”

Over fourteen years ago, we launched the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), a first-of-its-kind open monetization program, where anyone who qualified could join and start making money. In fact, we share over half of the revenue generated with creators. And today, YPP continues to be one of the largest drivers of the creator economy in the world. Creators who are part of YPP can make money and earn a living from their content on YouTube with ten different monetization features (and we keep adding more), from advertiser revenue to selling merchandise. Over the last three years, we’ve paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies. 


Now, more than two million creators participate in YPP globally, including many who might not otherwise have had a platform, from tech reviewers to entertainers. And many of these creators are generating jobs and contributing to local and global economies. In 2019 alone, YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported the equivalent of 345,000 full-time jobs, just in the U.S. This also means that quality content on everything from how to fix a garage door, to music videos, to lectures on advanced physics, are available for free, to audiences around the world.


Protecting the creative economy


This unique business model only works when our viewers, creators and advertisers all have confidence that we are living up to our responsibility as a business. Over the past few years, we’ve been investing in the policies, resources and products needed to protect the community and the vast majority of creators who are producing incredible content, while cracking down on the tiny fraction of bad actors. In fact, in Q4 2020, YouTube’s violative view rate was at 0.16-0.18%, which means that out of every 10,000 views on YouTube, only 16-18 come from violative content. As a result, we’ve seen our focus on responsibility benefit creators and our overall business. In Q2 2021, revenues from YouTube ads crossed $7B and we paid more to YouTube creators and partners than in any quarter in our history.

Timeline of key policies and product launches to reward trusted creators over the years

In addition to our Community Guidelines, creators need to meet an even higher bar to join the YouTube Partner Program and make money on YouTube. Every channel applying to YPP undergoes review by a trained rater to make sure it meets our policies. We also regularly review and remove channels that don’t comply with our policies. For example, we’ve been removing channels from YPP that repeatedly brush up against our hate speech, harassment and misinformation policies. 


Since advertising has been at the core of creators’ revenue, we need to ensure that advertisers have faith in our systems and feel comfortable with where their ads appear. Advertisers do not want their brands associated with problematic content and actors, and we’ve seen first-hand that they vote with their feet. When advertisers lack trust in our systems, they scale back their spend on YouTube. This affects the entire ecosystem, not just the very small number of bad actors


We’ve partnered closely with advertisers to address their feedback, and today we're at least 99% effective at ensuring brand safety for advertisers. As a result, YouTube was the first digital platform to be accredited for content level brand safety by the Media Rating Council. YouTube was also one of the founding members of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), a multi-stakeholder initiative to improve digital and brand safety with advertisers. As part of this initiative, we’ve helped establish a set of industry standards to define content not suitable for advertising. 


With improved systems and increased advertiser trust, we’re growing the pie and making channels in YPP more successful as a whole. The number of new channels joining YPP in 2020 more than doubled when compared to the year before. And the number of YouTube channels making 6 figures in revenue or more is up more than 35% year over year in the U.S.

Extending our trust in YPP Creators


Creators in YPP have access to programs and products that give them more control over the monetization of their channel. With our Self-Certification program, they can rate their own videos against our advertiser-friendly guidelines. Our systems verify creators’ ratings, and the more accurate they are, the more our system uses their ratings over time. As a result, creators who accurately rate their content have seen a reduction in classifier mistakes by more than 50%.


We’ve also rolled out a new “Checks” process which automatically screens creators’ uploads for potential copyright claims and ad suitability restrictions. This helps creators understand how their videos will monetize and make edits before uploading if they want.


As a result of these efforts, the vast majority of content uploaded by channels in YPP meets the ad-friendly thresholds and is suitable for all advertisers. In fact, just a single digit percent of videos monetized by creators receive a yellow dollar sign icon (meaning they show limited or no ads). This is a win for advertisers and creators alike.



Helping Creators Expand their Business


Over the past few years, we’ve been working to build a multi-faceted business that helps YouTube creators grow and diversify their revenue. We now offer ten different ways for creators to earn revenue, such as ads, subscriptions, branded content, merchandising, Paid Digital Goods and more.


We continue investing in new tools that help creators earn money while strengthening the relationship with their viewers, such as our new Super Thanks tool. And because we’re deeply committed to supporting the next generation of creators, we also offer other ways for creators (both on YPP and outside of YPP) to make money, such as the Shorts Fund.


Finding new ways to reward trusted creators financially and help them ramp up their businesses will always be a top priority for us. 


10 ways to monetize on YouTube

YouTube is built on the premise of openness, which allows millions of creators to find a voice and a community. However, we set a higher bar for what channels can make money on our platform. We have every incentive to continue to tackle problematic content on our platform: it is not just the right thing for our viewers and creators, it’s also good for business. We’ll continue our responsibility work even as we continue to grow the YouTube Partner Program, and we consider these investments core to the future success of the creator economy at large.