Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The 'Adpocalypse': An Unpopular Opinion

Here I am. Another insignificant and nearly invisible thread in the worldwide web. And yet, I feel compelled to share my opinion with you on the poorly-dubbed 'Adpocalypse'. As did so many other channels before me with, like me, under 5000 subscribers. My saying as always been: don't get on the hate train if you can't afford a ticket. But here I am. Here I am, riding that same exact train with no valid travel pass or ticket. However, I feel like, even though I'm a passenger just like anyone else on their way to Salt City, I have planted my firm yet sloppy behind in a different coach.

The 'Adpocalypse', rather dramatically, symbolizes the recent trend of companies pulling their ads off Youtube, because of various illegitimate, or, dare I say, legitimate reasons. These reasons range from mild sexual content depicted in a video, to racism, to downright hate-mongering. The full suite of human kind's best traits. The foresight clearly bestowed upon God, or whoever it is that created our beloved species. Always gotta keep pushing the envelope. Right?

Well, NO MORE! Or atleast, that's what I think the CEO of Coca-Cola screamed in his weekly board meeting with other high-end figures that know very little of the real world's misdemeanors and quirky little personality traits. And it didn't end with Coca-Cola. More and more (big) companies pulled their ads, because humans, even the most inhuman of them all, are sheep, essentially. Youtube saw their revenue plummeting, and I beg of you, remember that statement. Because, as the revenue for Youtube went severely down, the same happened for its creators. For those that have absolutely no idea how Youtube works, here's a clear picture: advertisers, like said Coca-Cola, pay Youtube to let their ads run on videos. Youtube then shares the revenue from those ads between herself, and her creators. Simple.

Now, when that all happened, outrage is the logical next step. It was guided towards companies, mostly, and while Felix, or PewDiePie (we go on a first name basis), made a very fact-underlined video, other videos spawned as well. You know, the ones that can be considered as hostile. Sorta. Highlighting sir Kjellberg's video though, he makes extremely good points. Targeting ads on Youtube is better. Reach and penetration on Youtube is better. Interaction on Youtube is better. All better than more traditional advertising. So why did these companies decide to hold back on their ads on this perfect platform?

Hold on now, because this paragraph will be a little bit more, erm, controversial. Content offered on Youtube is of a wide range in variety. And there's a lot of it. A LOT. Back when Youtube chose to demonetize certain videos, which she's still doing, flags would go off on certain types of content, which were most likely automated or dependent on reporting from the community. This has received a lot of negative feedback, and justly so, because the system is incredibly flawed. But the issue does not lie with the flagging and demonitization. The issue lies with today's society.

Today's problem with society is the overly social response to anything that is slightly controversial or offensive. And while I believe downright offensive content should be flagged, controversial content was always worth watching. In the end, every decision for any company is made by human beings and specifically those with very little knowledge of what is actually going on in a company or in the real world. And thus, decisions were made to pull ads off Youtube. In an effort to get back some of those advertisers, they implemented a method for said advertisers to 'tick' which content should be avoided when placing their ads. And since everything can be regarded as even slightly offensive to someone, everything gets flagged. That's the adpocalypse. Albeit the short version of it. But here's the real kicker: Youtube should not be blamed.

As I depicted earlier, it is now considered the 'cool' thing to do to rant about Youtube. And while there are certain aspects that could be done considerably better, and undeniably so, Youtube is merely trying to do one thing. Survive. Yes, communication should be improved, by a large margin. Yes, the automated flagging system should be done better. And yes, Youtube should really take a class in expectation and decision-making management. But ultimately, Youtube is completely reliant on society. Society dictates the rules of which videos are considered controversial or offensive, and society is the trigger-happy hate-monger here. Youtube had to implement changes to the ad-system, simply because she would perish otherwise.

Imagine losing EVERY form of income, in a span of about a month. Imagine that. Now imagine you already have a company that isn't financially healthy. And imagine an audience as big and diverse as any big capital around the world, with millions of different opinions and thoughts on what is considered the line, and what is considered to cross said line. Basically, you're fucked. There's no way in hell you can do anything without being judged, but still you'll have to do something. Any change implemented pisses off the investors, society, advertisers or content creators. See the sour pickle in this scenario? Because make no mistake, it is fucking sour.

I'm not trying to play good cop while all of you have to play bad cop. I fully recognize that Youtube needs to be a little bit more careful with their ad distribution and the toll it puts on her content creators. Because the scenario sketched in the previous paragraph is valid for those content creators as well, line by line, word for word. But Youtube is merely responding to what society is dictating. Companies pull ads because of various reasons, and those reasons have been provided by society. Youtube then has no choice but to refurbish the current system, and they need to do it fast. There's no time for extensive testing in dark little rooms, reeking with the sweat of the IT-crew. No. It needs to go live, asap. Why? Because of you, the content creator.

There was an uproar when there were no ads at all. Now, the ads are slowly coming back, because Youtube has implemented the new system. But there's still an uproar. Because content creators are still not making the same amount of revenue. Because of that change. So revert the change! Then there's no filter, so companies decide to throw their expensive marketing-dollars somewhere else. Vicous is the circle described, yes?

There is a lot of confusion about flagging, and which videos are demonitized. Or, rather, which videos are still showing ads that should definitely not show ads. And to that I say: true. This is a legitimate concern. However, do you know how many videos or hours of content are uploaded on Youtube over the course of one day. It would baffle you, as it baffled me. There's no way in which Youtube can possibly screen every video for the complete content of that video. There's just no way. So what you're being left with is a flawed system, basically created by a flawed society/corporate environment.

Youtube needs money. Youtube needs content creators in order to get paid. And Youtube needs companies to run ads for. A big, more prominent part of Youtube's community is trying to bring the message across to its audience that Youtube just loves screwing over her content creators. But you honestly think that's their goal? That they want to push away what they so desperately need? As the Brits say it: Rubbish! And you know it is. But it's easy. It's easy to look at flaws. Today, it's easy to hand out a slap in the face, and hard to give praise. Youtube has done so much for so many content creators, literally bestowing more fame and money upon them than they'd ever think. But when the chips are down, none of that matters anymore. 'JUST FIX IT!', they scream. 'GOODBYE YOUTUBE!', they shout. But not once have I heard any in-depth thoughts about solutions. Not once have I heard acceptance that sometimes situations can be a little bad.

This is Youtube's way of trying, and trying, and trying, to come up with a platform and a system for revenue. A platform that serves millions, maybe even billions of people, and thousands of companies, and hundreds of thousands of content creators. Has it made questionable choices? Yes. Has it done a poor job of communicating said changes to its audience, whether the audience is creators or users? Most def. But the fact that they had to implement changes, is not due to them. Maybe, just maybe, we should look at and blame something else than Youtube. You know, for a healthy change. And if you have to blame Youtube, or rant about, try thinking in solutions instead of problems. As for the companies; pull your management-heads out of your royal management-ass, and get real. Stop letting minor groups of people influence your corporate image. Because we are with many, us normal folk. And we don't get offended easily anymore. Never forget. We are with many.

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