In September, YouTube announced sweeping changes as part of its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over alleged Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violations. The changes will require YouTube creators to manually label content that is made for kids and machine learning will also start to classify videos as made for kids. Any videos that are deemed to be made for kids will then no longer show personalized ads.
At the time, YouTube gave creators four months to adjust and warned them to expect “significant business impact.” Now new data from TubeFilter is suggesting that this significant business impact is likely to mean a 60-90% drop in ad revenue for creators.
TubeFilter asked a group of creators to disable personalized ads on their videos and then tested how much of a loss in revenue this caused. Based on its initial testing, TubeFilter found that videos that don't run personalized ads see a loss in revenue of between 60% and 90%.
This isn't the only potential financial impact these changes could have on YouTube creators. As we reported in September, the FTC has also said that creators who don't label their content correctly could be held liable for COPPA violations. TubeFilter says that the fine for such violations can be more than $42,000 per video.
Another development that could cause a greater financial impact on creators is that the FTC wants to broaden the scope of content made for kids. When these changes were announced in September, many YouTube creators were concerned that there was a lack of clarity about what defines content made for kids. For example, it was unclear whether a gaming channel that makes content for gamers of all ages but plays some games that are popular with children would have their videos classed as content made for kids.
Now the FTC is pushing to expand the definition to include “child-attractive” content which means any video that children might be interested in would have its personalized ads disabled and see a significant drop in revenue.
The FTC is asking for public comments from YouTube creators about the impact these changes will have on their business before they're introduced on January 1, 2020.
TubeFilter is urging YouTube creators to push for the following changes:
- The FTC should allow parents to decide whether their kids will use YouTube Kids or YouTube's main platform, without punishing creators when parents choose to let kids use YouTube's main site.
- The FTC should not expand the scope of COPPA to child-attractive content as it pertains to content creators.
- The FTC should put out an enforcement statement on how it intends to enforce COPPA against individual content creators.
- The FTC should provide clarity on the rules defining what constitutes “directed to children,” as the definition is extremely vague in the creator context.
- The FTC places a six-month moratorium on enforcement against content creators, allowing us more time to adjust to the new post-settlement YouTube ecosystem.
- Roll back elements of the 2013 amendment as they pertain to content creators to preserve our ability to continue producing free, ad-supported content for the families who choose to consume our content on YouTube's main site.
TubeFilter has set up a Change.org petition and is also asking creators to contact the FTC directly.