As users of the Internet, we have something of a love/hate relationship with advertisements.
Most of us understand that the blogs we read, the videos we watch, the content we consume—is made possible by the revenue generated from ads. At the same time, we see those very same ads as an inconvenience and an annoyance. Indeed, many people use adblockers to remove them from our screens altogether.
For creators of that content, it is a difficult concept to come to terms with. On the one hand, you want your viewers to watch ads on your videos. Still, it’s hard not to empathize with their desire not to be bothered by commercials for Fiverr, Monday.com, or whoever is turning the advertising firehose on your viewers lately.
In the case of YouTube, it’s not as clear cut as getting an ad view or not—YouTube often gives viewers the option to skip ads after the first few seconds. As welcome as this tool may be to viewers, it can leave YouTubers wondering if they get paid for those first few unskippable seconds.
We’re going to get into this subject in-depth, but do YouTubers get paid if you skip ads? Short answer is, no. However, the answer isn’t as clear cut as we might have liked. Generally speaking, no, YouTubers don’t get paid for skipped ads. However, there are situations in which a skipped ad will still result in some earnings for the YouTuber.
Let’s get into the details so you can understand when you are—and when you aren’t—getting paid.
YouTube’s Ad Options
Here, we are talking specifically about YouTube’s in-stream ads. These are ads that show up in your actual video, before (pre-roll), during, or at the end. There are other advertising options for YouTubers to monetise their videos, and we’ll touch on those later, but you can’t “skip” a display ad, so for now, we’re going to stick to the video ads.
YouTube has two options when it comes to in-stream advertising campaigns. The type of ad that gets shown on your video determines whether you get paid anything on skipped ads.
TrueView for Reach Ads
For YouTubers who have been around for a while, this could be considered the “traditional” YouTube advertising model. In TrueView ads, the advertiser pays per engagement.
The definition of engagement (or “completion”) is watching at least thirty seconds or interacting with the ad. If the ad is shorter than thirty seconds, then the viewer will have to watch the whole thing for it to count as an engagement.
If your viewer doesn’t meet one of these requirements, the advertiser is not charged and you, the YouTuber, don’t receive anything for the ad.
These are the ads that typically allow the viewer to skip after the first few seconds, which tends to be what happens a lot of the time. There is no CPM (cost per thousand impressions) model for these ads. As such, the number of people seeing those first few seconds of an advertisement is of no benefit to the YouTuber whose videos they are being shown on.
Should a viewer click on one of these ads, however, it is typically worth more to the YouTuber than the non-skippable bumper ads that we’re going to cover now.
Non-Skippable Bumper Ads
Like TrueView ads, these can show up before, during, or at the end of your videos. Unlike TrueView ads, these are only ever six seconds long, and cannot be skipped by the viewer.
These ads are charged (and, subsequently, paid) on a CPM basis. That means that, rather than earning you money every time a viewer clicks on the ad, they earn money for every 1,000 views they receive. Bumper ads are designed to gain exposure, rather than encourage the viewer to perform a specific action. That makes the number of people who have seen the advertisement is the more critical metric.
It is still possible for a non-skippable ad to not count, such as if a viewer hits the back button when the ad starts. But YouTube is using the industry standard of two seconds for an impression to count. That means the viewer would have to immediately leave your video for their view to not count.
I you want more in-depth tips on how to increase your earnings and boost YouTube Channel and even blog CPM, I wrote a deep dive into what can positively and negatively effect ad rates and earnings in my blog.
Do YouTubers Get Paid if You Skip Ads?
Hopefully, the answer is a little clearer now.
Technically YouTuber’s get paid almost any time a bumper ad is played, however, these ads are unskippable. Also, as they pay per 1,000 views, the effective amount you earn for one view is tiny compared to engagement on a regular ad.
With the more traditional TrueView ads, a YouTuber will earn money if the ad is watched for at least thirty seconds, assuming the ad is longer than thirty seconds. So, a viewer can skip an ad and still count as an engagement.
For viewers that skip before those thirty seconds are up, however, no money is paid by the advertiser, and so no money is earned by the YouTuber.
Other Types of YouTube Ads
In-stream ads are not the only option for advertisers on YouTube, and, as such, not the only way YouTuber’s can earn money.
There are presently two other ways for advertisers to get their message across, so let’s take a look at them.
Non-video ads are the ads that show up in the form of a small banner overlay in the video or a display ad in the sidebar. These ads are minimally intrusive, which is a double-edged sword in terms of viewer engagement.
On the one hand, they are less irritating to your viewers, meaning they are less likely to click away because of an ad. On the other hand, they are considerably easier to ignore, meaning there is less chance of engagement and, subsequently, less chance of revenue.
As a YouTuber, you can choose which kinds of ads you allow on your monetized videos, though not the content of those ads. So, it may be worth doing research and testing to find which ads work best for you and your audience.
Discovery ads, while they are clearly marked as an ad, show up in organic search results and watch feeds in the same style as the regular search results and recommendation videos around them.
This type of advertisement is ideally suited to YouTuber’s themselves, as it is designed to drive traffic to a particular video. The ad will show among related videos as though it were an organic result, meaning the people seeing the ad were already looking for that kind of content to being with. It is worth remembering that, as mentioned, the ads are marked as promoted content.
These ads are unobtrusive and, by their very nature, tailored towards the viewer’s interests because the viewer is already looking for the type of content being promoted in the first place.
Other Options for YouTuber’s to Earn Money
YouTube’s advertising platform has its strengths and weaknesses as a revenue source. Still, it’s not the only option for YouTuber’s to turn their channel into an income generator.
For channels with enough interest, it is possible to cut out the middle man and go directly to the advertiser. Several brands have been open to making deals directly with content creators. That number continues to grow as the power of platforms like YouTube becomes increasingly evident.
With a brand deal, you will have to work out the details with the advertiser yourself, including price negotiations, but this added work comes with rewards. Namely: revenue.
The earning potential from brand deals is considerably higher than that of YouTube’s monetisation program. Of course, the barrier to entry is higher as well. You only need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours watch time to qualify for YouTube’s Partner Programme, but brands will require a considerably larger audience before they think about offering a channel a deal.
It should be noted that, if you do get a brand deal, you are required to inform YouTube via the “contains paid promotion” checkbox of your video details.
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For YouTuber’s with an invested audience, crowdfunding is a great way to earn revenue from a relatively small audience. Traditional advertising does not pay very well with low viewing figures. Often earning pennies per 1,000 impressions, or more per click when only a small percentage of viewers ever click, you need a lot of views to make decent money.
With an engaged audience who like your content and are happy to send you a little cash to support you, you can earn considerably more revenue.
Crowdfunding suits smaller channels particularly well, as viewers are more likely to support a creator they feel connected with. It is easier to maintain that kind of relationship when you don’t have millions of subscribers.
Responding to every comment is feasible when you have a few thousand subscribers, but that’s not the case when you have a few million.
This dynamic extends to YouTube advertising as well. With a small, dedicated audience, you are more likely to receive ad revenue because your viewers are more likely to be interested in the ads. For larger channels with more casual viewers, this is not usually the case. It is this relationship that is why some YouTuber’s can go full time with an audience of around twenty thousand subscribers, while other YouTuber’s with ten times that amount of subscribers still have to work a regular job alongside their channel.
Affiliate marketing is usually thought of as a supplemental revenue source—rather than a primary earner—when talking about YouTube channels. Affiliate programmes will pay you a commission for actions carried out through your referral—a typical example of this being you sharing an Amazon affiliate link in your description. Amazon then pays you a percentage of the sale when one of your viewers buys something through that link.
Affiliate programmes are particularly useful for channels that feature products, such as unboxing videos and product or service reviews. If a viewer watches your video and decides they want to purchase the product or service being featured, they can click through your link, and you will earn a small commission.
Using affiliate marketing when it doesn’t organically tie into your content is unlikely to generate revenue, however. Worse still, it can sometimes be seen by your viewers as a cynical money grab and may turn some people off. And, on that note, always be upfront with your viewers about affiliates, brand deals, and product placements.
Most viewers won’t care if you are getting paid to talk about a product, but they will care if you aren’t honest with them about it.
Affiliate marketing has made me $1000’s over the last few years. It can be as simple as making content and picking the right links. But to help you get started I have written a Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing in this blog – It’s surprisingly simple once you get started!
Eyes on the Prize
At this point, it is worth enforcing the point that content is what matters. If you focus on making the best possible content for your audience, meeting a need they have, the opportunities to generate revenue will come.
If you are concerned over whether you earn money from skipped ads, you may not have your head in the right place for success. Many YouTubers consider the YouTube Partner Programme a poor option for revenue generation, and certainly not a good bet for your primary source of income. Obsessing on details such as whether you get paid for a few seconds of watch time on a skipped advertisement is not the best use of your mental energy.
Put that energy into your content. Find ways to expand your audience, or drill down further into your niche and become an authority. Consider other methods of monetisation when the time is right. There is no point in starting a Patreon with fifty subscribers, for example. Well, unless they are very dedicated subscribers.
YouTube monetisation has long been an unreliable source of income for its creators, with continually changing terms and multiple “adpocalypses”. The best way to approach this is not to think about it. Simply turn monetisation on when suitable, and forget about it. Focus on your content and other revenue sources. That way, any income you do make through YouTube’s Partner Programme will feel like a nice bonus.
And you won’t be caught short the next time YouTube changes their rules, and your revenue takes a hit.