The specifics around how YouTubers earn money isn’t always the clearest cut of things to understand for YouTubers themselves, let alone people who are viewing those videos and aren’t a creator.
As consumers of content, we are more aware than ever of the need to support those creators whose content we enjoy, so it makes sense that you might want to ensure that you are supporting your favourite YouTubers as best you can. Not all of us are in a position to support YouTubers directly—through memberships and Patreon subscriptions and such—which leaves the only viable alternative of ensuring that you generate the maximum ad revenue possible when you watch their content.
Of course, you might just be here because you’re curious.
Do YouTubers get paid more if you watch the whole ad? – This depends on what TYPE of advert you are watching. Skippable ads are typically lower value while in the first 30 seconds. However, if its a long video ad the advertiser might not pay at all until you reach the 30% mark. In this case the longer you watch the more income the creator may make from the advertsing.
Lets look into what ads pay and how.
The Different YouTube Ads and How They Pay
There are several different types of advertisements on YouTube, and each of them earns YouTubers money in different ways.
They are also worth different amounts of money depending on things like the ad, the niche the video is in, and the action taken—or not taken—by the viewer, but since this post is concerned with how much of an ad you need to watch to earn your favourite YouTuber the maximum from that your ad view, we’ll leave those details for another post.
So, let’s take a look at the different ad types and how they work.
Skippable In-Stream Video Ads
These ads are the most common type of advertisement you are likely to notice on YouTube and the only ones that are relevant in terms of watching the “whole” ad. These ads can be shown at the start and end of a video and, if the video is longer than ten minutes in length, during the course of the video as well.
For these kinds of ads, the YouTuber earns money when the viewer watches the whole ad, at least thirty seconds of the ad (assuming the ad is longer than thirty seconds), or interacts with the ad.
If the ad is thirty seconds or less, watching the whole ad will earn the YouTuber more money, but if the ad is longer than thirty seconds, you are not earning the YouTuber any additional revenue after that first thirty seconds.
Un-Skippable or “Bumper” Ads
As the name suggests, you can’t skip these ads, so there is no need to wonder if watching the whole thing earns more money for the YouTuber whose channel the ad is on.
What is interesting about these ads, though, is that they work on a CPM basis. Rather than being paid for a complete view, or for a click, the YouTubers are paid per thousand views of the ad.
These ads tend to be good for channels with a lot of traffic since the viewer doesn’t need to do anything (other than not click away) in order to count toward the YouTubers earnings. Bumper ads are typically between five and twelve seconds.
These ads are the small banner ads that pop up at the bottom of a video showing text or images. In this case, the YouTuber only gets paid if you click on the ad since there is no video to watch.
Display ads are the ads you see beside the video, rather than overlaid on it or interrupting it. These videos may have some simple animation to them, but for the most part, they will be static, and may even be text only. Like overlay ads, a viewer usually has to click on them on for the YouTuber to make any revenue, though the advertisers can choose pay per thousand impressions instead of clicks.
So now we know how the different ads work, we can say that the answer to “do YouTubers get paid more if you watch the whole ad?” is… it’s complicated.
For the most common type of advertisement you see on YouTube—the skippable in-stream ads—it does tend to be the case that watching the whole ad will earn more money for the YouTuber. But even then it is not so clear cut, as you only need to watch thirty seconds, and some ads are longer than that.
Should I Worry About This?
The answer to this question is different depending on what role you are playing in the transaction, so we’re going to answer it for each role separately.
As a Viewer
If you are a viewer and you are concerned about ensuring your favourite creators get the maximum value from your view, then yes, you might want to worry about this. We’re not sure you should go to the trouble of timing your ad watches to ensure you watch at least thirty seconds, nor are we suggesting you sit through a whole six-minute ad that is irrelevant to you or uninteresting. It is also worth remembering that unskippable ads still contribute to the YouTuber’s earnings, and non-video ads typically need you to click them before they generate revenue for the YouTuber.
As a YouTuber
The answer to this is a resounding “no”, which may not be what you expected. It is true that the ad-engagement of your audience directly affects how much you earn through your YouTube channel (at least, through the YouTube Partner Programme), but at the same time, there is nothing you can do to change that behaviour. That is, short of begging your viewers to watch the ads on your channel all the way through, which probably won’t be too well received.
Your best bet as a YouTuber is to focus on making the best possible content for your audience and letting the ads run their course. It is generally a good idea not to rely solely on YouTube’s built-in monetisation options anyway, and this is just one of the many reasons why that is the case.
As an Advertiser
Unlike the YouTuber, advertisers do have the power to affect ad engagement in a significant way. Remember, advertisers on YouTube are not just large corporations with huge marketing budgets.
In fact, the advertiser has perhaps the ability to make the largest difference in this equation. If you make your ads compelling, viewers are more likely to click or watch them. You get what you want from the transaction, the YouTuber makes a little extra revenue, YouTube makes a little extra revenue, and, presumably, the viewer finds something they wanted through your ad.
In short, as an advertiser on YouTube, you have the power to make everyone’s day a little better, and the kicker is you don’t have to do anything you weren’t already doing in order to make that happen.
Do Ads Always Generate Revenue for the YouTuber?
In the past, if you saw an ad on a video, it meant that the YouTuber who posted the video was getting paid. Things got a little less clear as processes like Content ID came into play, allowing copyright holders—when unlicensed use of their property (often music) was detected—to choose to leave the offending video up and claim the revenue generated by it instead of having the video DMCA’d out of existence.
Still, even with Content ID in place, the majority of videos with ads being displayed earn their creators revenue. That’s about to change, however.
Changes to YouTube’s terms of service suggest that YouTube intend to (if they are not already) roll ads on channels that are not part of the YouTube Partner Programme, with YouTube keeping all of the revenue.
Naturally, in these cases, it doesn’t matter how much of an ad you watch, the YouTuber whose video that ad is on doesn’t make any money. If you are concerned about ensuring your favourite YouTubers get rewarded for their content and want to watch the full ad, but don’t want to waste your time if the money isn’t going to the video creator, there isn’t presently an obvious way to know where the money is going.
If you are very concerned about this, there are things you can check to better guess if the YouTuber is getting paid by the ads. For example, you need to have at least a thousand subscribers before you can become part of the YouTube Partner Programme, so if your YouTuber doesn’t have that, they almost certainly aren’t earning ad revenue from their channel.
There are other criteria, but they are considerably more challenging—if not outright impossible—to check from outside of YouTube Studio. One thing you could look at is the number of videos and the views they have.
Now, we’re not suggesting you start manually tallying up the potential watch time of your favourite YouTuber, but another one of the criteria for being part of the YouTube Partner Programme is having at least four thousand hours of watch time across your videos. So, if a channel has only uploaded ten videos and most of those videos have less than a thousand views, you can probably assume they are not part of the YouTube Partner Programme.
Supporting Your Favourite YouTubers in Other Ways
If you have got this far and are not convinced that ad views are a good way to support your favourite YouTubers, you wouldn’t be entirely without reason. Ads tend to make a relatively small amount of money for most YouTubers, with the exact amount that an ad view is worth varying wildly from video to video.
Some YouTubers are able to make a comfortable living from a channel with a hundred thousand subscribers, while others can have millions of subscribers and be barely much better off—if not actively worse off.
If you want to support a particular YouTuber and you have the means to sign up to their Patreon or other funding platforms or become a member on their YouTube channel, that is the best way you can support them financially. Beyond that, however, there is the share factor.
If you do everything you reasonably can to spread the word about the YouTuber you like—getting more eyeballs on their videos and, as a result, more ad views—that will do a lot of good for their channel. Never under-estimate the power of word of mouth when it comes to helping out YouTubers.
Finally, being sure to like, subscribe, and ring the bell is another way to help. Yes, it’s a cliche at this point, and many-a-YouTuber now signs off their videos asking you to do those things, but there is a reason for that. The more engaged viewers are with a video or channel, the more likely YouTube is to recommend that channel to other users. Watch time also plays a huge role in this respect.
Watching your YouTuber’s videos all the way through tells YouTube that this creator is making content that keeps viewers on the site for longer, and that will lead to more bias towards them in the YouTube recommendation algorithm.
Unlike YouTube ads, brand deals and sponsored content is not meticulously monitored because YouTube does not provide those kinds of metrics to third parties. For a brand to know the kind of information YouTube knows, the YouTuber would have to give it to them manually.
From a practical sense, if you skipped over a sponsored bit in a video, it won’t have much of an effect in the short term because the company sponsoring the video will be looking at views, and you will have viewed the video. They will have no way of knowing that you skipped the sponsored content.
In the long term, however, the company sponsoring the video will be looking for a return on their investment, and if they don’t see an uptick in customers from their sponsored videos, they are far less likely to sponsor them again.
Granted, if the service or product that is sponsoring the video is something of no interest to you—perhaps it is for a service you already subscribe to, or a product you don’t need—then it will make no difference whether you watch the sponsored bit or not since you won’t be buying anything.
But, if you are not so certain, at least watch the sponsored content once to establish for certain that it is not something you are interested in. Many brands have a way for you to tell them where you heard of them when you purchase a product or service, and telling them a YouTuber sent them is good for the YouTuber.