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Winners & Losers of YouTube Adpocalypse

image of woman holding phone and watching a video
Jessica Bernabe

Over the last year, YouTube changed the minimum requirement for participation in its YouTube Partners program, sparking backlash from their community.

The new rules limit the generation of revenue to members of the YouTube Partner Program with channels featuring more than 1,000 subscribers, 4,000 hours of watch time (a change from the previous standard of 10,000 total views), and “non-offensive” content to the dismay of many YouTubers who unexpectedly lost ad revenue.

The controversial policy, dubbed “Adpocalypse” by the many content creators who lost a key source of revenue as a result of the change, has created its fair share of winners and losers...

Winner: People looking to work for YouTube

Viewers upload 65 years worth of data every single day.

To enforce their changes to the Partner Program—in particular, the new mandate for non-offensive content—YouTube went on a hiring spree, onboarding 10,000 new employees and contractors to help flag content, not in adherence with the new policies.

Winner: YouTube

Viewers are still flocking to YouTube—it remains the #2 search engine in the world behind parent company, Google, and the platform is home to an estimated 1.5 billion users per month.

bar graph of most active social media platforms

Winner: Google

How much revenue does Google, YouTube’s parent company, make from all those ads on YouTube?

An estimated $13 billion in 2018, and experts estimate that number will climb to $26 billion in 2019.

Loser: Mid-sized content creators

A recent study showed that over 85% of views come from just 3% of YouTube channels, and according to research, a subscriber base of 1.4 million will only generate about $17,000 annually—$5,000 below the federal poverty line.

While most mid-sized content creators would have been the first to admit they weren’t getting rich from their YouTube ad revenue, the Adpocalypse severely hamstrings their ability to earn a living.

Winner: YouTube advertisers

Advertisers may have been the biggest winner of Adpocalypse. Since YouTube’s policy changes, advertisers are seeing their commercials played on higher-quality content than ever before.

Loser: Small content creators

YouTube Channels with less-than-1,000 subscribers have been hammered by Adpocalypse, and—to some extent—that’s a huge problem considering it’s those small, grassroots content creators that helped YouTube become what it is today.

Fortunately, alternatives platforms are emerging for these creatives, platforms like Patreon that offer a hefty revenue incentive, allowing creators to keep 90% of channel subscriber proceeds. These subscription-based platforms may prove to be the next outlet for small content creators to express themselves and get paid for it.


Want to learn more about YouTube advertising and digital advertising in general? Talk to the talented team at Scorpion to learn more.