Last week, both Casey Neistat and Philip DeFranco, who are very established YouTubers with about 12 million subscribers combined, spoke out against YouTube after YouTube demonetized videos they posted in an attempt to raise money in the aftermath of the Las Vegas Mass Shooting. They also criticized YouTube justification for demonetizing their videos, which YouTube says violated their policy to not allow ads to run on videos about tragedies.
Both DeFranco and Neistat last week posted a video on YouTube addressing the Las Vegas tragedy and posted links to crowdfunding pages where donations could be sent to charities for the shooting. They also monetized their videos and said that all the money that they make off their videos from AdSense would go to charities as well.
However, YouTube demonetized Neistat’s video three days after it was published. Neistat tweeted that Google had marked the video not suitable for advertisers and that it had been demonetized. DeFranco’s video had a similar fate.
When Neistat went to Twitter, it promted a response from YouTube explaining that the video violated their ad policy. Both Neistat and DeFrance were unhappy with YouTube's response.
After seeing that the channel Jimmy Kimmel Live! had unskippable ads during the channel’s video addressing the mass shooting, DeFranco uploaded a video calling out YouTube for using a biased demonetization system that favors certain channels.
A YouTube representative later confirmed that there are a number of “whitelisted” partners that are allowed to run partner-run ads on YouTube. This means that ABC, for instance, can run their own third-party ads on YouTube outside of the AdSense system. DeFranco and Neistat however rely on AdSense, which include ads sold through YouTube. This means they have significantly less control over how ads apprear on their channel.
“In these cases, the partners worked directly with the advertisers to serve ads on their content, and in so doing took full responsibility for their placement including issues around brand suitability,” the representative said.
In light of the backlash that YouTube has received, they have said that they are considering options of not allowing “whitelisted” partners to run ads alongside videos covering events like the Las Vegas shooting. “In the specific case of tragedies, like the one in Las Vegas, we are working to not allow such partners to sell against such content. We have not completed this work yet but will soon,” the representative said.
In the end, DeFranco says he feels that YouTube is treating its smaller channels like they are inferior to big networks and personalities like ABC and Jimmy Kimmel, saying that it feels like a “big middle finger to your average creator that there are different rules based on your size.”