Every YouTuber with any kind of ambition naturally wants to find any edge they can get when it comes to increasing their viewership. Hopefully, those edges are all above board. So when theories start flying around about things that potentially affect your views, it’s perfectly natural to want to know if those theories are correct. In this case, the theory is that YouTube monetization can increase your views.
Many YouTubers shun YouTube monetization for several reasons. Perhaps they don’t feel the inconvenience to their viewers is worth the revenue it generates. Perhaps the YouTuber is very brand-conscious and doesn’t want to run the risk of having ads that would not mesh with their brand running alongside their videos. It could also be because the YouTuber has signed a brand deal with a third party and part of the deal is they can’t run YouTube ads on their sponsored videos.
Whatever the reason, it would certainly be interesting to see how many of those YouTubers might change their mind about not monetizing their videos if they knew that it cost them views.
But does monetization increase views? – Monetization does not affect your views. Not directly, at least. They are two completely different systems. However if you was demonetized for not safe for advertiser content you make have also been restricted or aged gated, which will impact views.
But as with many topics relating to YouTube, there is more to explore. If you’d like to know more, keep reading.
Why People Think Monetization = Views
The idea that YouTube monetization might lead to more views is not a ridiculous one. YouTube spent much of its early life as a notorious money pit, struggling to make back the money it cost to keep this enormous platform of video content afloat.
It stands to reason that YouTube would place earning money quite highly on its list of priorities. And, if that were the case, it would quite naturally follow that videos that are monetized would get more of a push from the YouTube algorithm than videos that aren’t. After all, it is not just the creators that aren’t earning anything—videos that aren’t monetized don’t make any money for YouTube, either.
Not only do they not make any money for YouTube, but they also cost them money. Every video uploaded means more storage, more server capacity, more money.
So it makes sense that YouTube would want to push those videos that are going to earn them money over those that aren’t. Especially considering that the videos that are allegedly being buried are costing YouTube less money when they are not actively being watched.
As we said, the theory makes perfect sense. But we also said this wasn’t the case, so let’s get into that next.
Why YouTube Monetization Doesn’t Increase Views
The simplest way to understand this concept is to think of YouTube and Google Adwords as two separate entities. Yes, we know Google (technically Alphabet Inc.) owns YouTube and Adwords, but for the sake of understanding, pretend for a moment that they are a completely unrelated company.
Now, YouTube does not earn money, per se, Google does. Google is essentially YouTube’s sugar daddy in that it pays for YouTube to keep running, but from a monetary standpoint, the money made through YouTube goes straight into Google’s coffers.
Additionally, YouTube and YouTuber have no more control over the ads shown on their platform than a regular blog with an Adwords account does. In short, the two companies are operating almost entirely independently of each other.
Google likes to compartmentalize. Adwords is a platform for delivering advertisements across a variety of different mediums. YouTube is a platform for publishing video. Google is a search engine, and so on.
The critical factor here is that YouTube’s mandate has nothing to do with monetization as such; it has to do with watch time. Now, granted, the more watch time there is, the more opportunity there is to serve ads, and the more money will get made. But from YouTube’s point of view, watch time is the endgame.
Correlation is not Causation
There is more to it, as always, when you think about how YouTube’s motives might affect video plays. For example, YouTube will promote videos that garner more watch time harder than they will promote videos that don’t do as well in the watch time department.
Videos with considerably more watch time are typically worth more and have a better higher likelihood of being monetized. The fact that these videos are monetized and get more of a push from Google is unconnected, however. It is the watch time that drives both.
Similarly, one of the main reasons for videos not being monetized is ineligibility for the YouTube Partner Programme, either through not having enough views or subscribers or because of community guideline violations. Videos that fall into this category are often less engaging, either because they have offensive content, their creator is inexperienced, or the content is just bad. In these cases, those videos will not receive the same kind of push from YouTube that a monetized video will, but it is not because of the monetization.
If you need help in understanding how to get monetized on YouTube I did a deep dive blog highlighting all the hoops to jump through.
Another point of correlation can be found in sensitive content. Advertisers are increasingly shying away from certain types of content—anything offensive, violent, political, and so on. At the same time, YouTube is less likely to push the content of this nature because it may cause offence and upset. In this case, once again, the videos that are demonetized are pushed less by the algorithm. But it is the content of the video that causes both things to happen independently of each other.
It is important to remember that YouTube’s goal of more watch time is largely geared towards serving more advertisements. So it stands to reason that their criteria will be somewhat similar to the requirements Adwords has with regards to showing an ad on a video (or webpage for that matter).
It may seem a pointless distinction at times—if the two aspects of the equation are so closely aligned, what difference does it make if they are directly interacting or not?
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Why This Matters
If your goal is purely to make money, and you are already part of the YouTube Partner Programme, it won’t make much difference to you. Your content will still need to adhere to whatever criteria advertisers are enforcing if you want to monetize your videos. And if that criteria closely aligns with what YouTube wants in terms of algorithm-friendly content, all the better.
Similarly, if YouTube is just a video hosting service to you—if you neither need nor care about YouTube promoting your content, none of this is relevant. All you would need to do is avoid breaking YouTube’s community guidelines so as not to get taken down completely.
Where it does make a difference, however, is with video content that is intentionally not-monetized, or videos that are not part of the YouTube Partner Programme.
By knowing that it is not monetization that is causing videos to get more views, but the underlying metrics that drive monetization, you can ensure that your content meets the necessary criteria to get promoted by YouTube, monetization or not.
If you are not part of the YouTube Partner Programme but would like to be, knowing this will help you get the views and watch time you need to join the programme.
Do I Need Monetization To Make Money?
The next question that usually follows this type of conversation is whether or not YouTube monetization is necessary, and what the alternatives are. You may be surprised to learn how many new YouTubers are unaware of other monetization methods.
If you are one such YouTuber, don’t worry; you’re not alone.
There are several ways you can monetize your YouTube channel without using YouTube’s monetization system. One of the more popular ones being crowdfunding
With this method, your viewers would voluntarily said you money as a thank you for your content. The idea is that they would like to see more of your content, and by donating some cash to you, they will help to ensure that more content happens. The most popular example of this kind of model is Patreon, which allows recurring payments, similar to a monthly subscription. There are alternatives, however, such as Ko-Fi, which functions a little more like a tip jar than a subscription service.
Another method of monetization is through brand deals and product sponsorships – I did a deep dive on affiliate marking on my blog that drill down into potential earning anyone can get with a little hard work.
This is where a company approaches you independently (or through an ad network) and pays you to promote their product or service, or review something, or sometimes just wear a t-shirt or drink from a particular mug.
You will typically need to have a good following with substantial viewing figures before this kind of deal will present itself. This kind of arrangement is usually the most lucrative kind of monetization you can get on YouTube channel.
Another option is selling merchandise using print-on-demand services. These services allow you to supply products to your viewers without having to order in bulk upfront and store large amounts of product. Many companies offer this service, and YouTube even has its own alternative for YouTubers with over 10,000 subscribers.
Can Monetization Hurt My Views?
The first thing to note here is that monetization certainly won’t hurt your views from the standpoint of viewers being pushed to your content. If your videos are advertisement friendly, they have already met a lot of the criteria for the kind of video the YouTube algorithm likes to push. Of course, there’s more to it than that, and it’s what happens after a viewer lands on your video that makes or breaks it.
More watch time and engagement will lead to a video being pushed more by YouTube, and it is here where monetization has the potential to hurt your views.
There are situations when a pre-roll ad will result in the viewer clicking away before they ever get to the video—particularly in the case of unskippable ads. This tends to happen more on casual content, such as funny videos and memes—the kind of videos people end up watching when they are idly browsing through YouTube with no real aim in mind. These viewers are not particularly invested in the content, and so the little barrier to entry that a pre-roll ad presents can sometimes be enough to scare them away. This affects smaller channels in particular, as every view is essential in those early days.
Another example of monetization hurting views is when a video is overstuffed with ads. If a viewer gets the sense that they are getting advertised at too often, they may click away out of frustration. A viewer clicking away halfway through your video doesn’t directly hurt your views—after all, they have already been counted as a view. What it does do is harm your videos standing in the YouTube algorithm.
It will see users clicking away from your content and see that as a warning sign that perhaps your videos are not suitable for a recommendation.
While it is impossible not to consider things like monetization and YouTube’s algorithm if you are hoping to make a significant success out of your YouTube channel, the content you produce remains the best way to ensure success.
If you are creating content in one of the shadier area of YouTube (as far as the algorithm is concerned) such as politics, you may need to accept that monetization is not a practical option for your channel. There are other methods by which you can monetize your content, of course, but the common denominator is that you will need good content to do so. If you want to get monetized, you will need sufficient watch time and subscribers. If you’re going to attract brand deals, you will need a substantial following.
If you’re going to pursue a crowdfunding model, you will need to produce good enough content that people will be willing to donate to you of their own volition.
The key to success on YouTube always boils down to good content—making quality videos is the foundation of all YouTube success. Knowing how the algorithm works only helps you steer yourself in the right direction while making that good content.
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