Σάββατο, 3 Μαρτίου 2018

Youtube Adpocalypse. Points of contention.

Youtube Advertisers' Boycott: Points of Contention

Numerous advertisers have been pulling out of Youtube and Google, for some weeks now.
A lot of Youtubers, have raised the issue of lost ad revenue on their channels, and others also report lost subscribers, and vastly fewer views.
There are some points of contention, in the discussion of this issue, so let's start breaking them down. 

1) Monetary expectations.

Many viewers have complained that, Youtubers should not have monetary expectations from Youtube, or that they are not doing real jobs.
The argument goes like A) Back when Youtube started, there was no ad revenue. B) No one expected to get paid. It was a hobby. C) They are making videos from their bedroom, they should find real jobs.

A) Back when Youtube started, there was no ad revenue. Back when roads were dirt and gravel, there were no tolls. What's the argument here? That things change over time? They do.  Back when Youtube started, most videos were shot on low quality, and had terrible sound. Things move on. Frequently the same people will comment that Youtube is a private company, so they can do whatever they want. Well guess what they did. They added advertisements. And they let the video creators have part of that revenue, to incentivize video creators to make better videos, which in turn brought more ads to Youtube.  There you go.  If you think Youtube would never seek to monetize their platform you are wrong, because the platform has costs. If you think Youtube would not share the revenue with creators, you are wrong, because Youtube, has an incentive, to incentivize creators. So A is an invalid statement. 

B) No one expected to get paid. It was a hobby. Well sometime ago playing music at parties was a hobby. Today it's a prestigious job, we call it a DJ. If you want to get all agnostic about the market, why start with Youtube? When did telling jokes become a job? I am looking at you stand up comedians. So B is an invalid statement. 

C) They are making videos from their bedroom, they should find real jobs.
So many wrong things with this one.   Some of the world's greatest books have been written in bedrooms. What if a lawyer studies court documents in their bedroom? Is that a job? What if a stock broker, checks share prices from his bedroom, is that a job? What if a tutor, teaches piano, to a teenager, in their bedroom, is that a job? Does it have to include 4 hours of daily commuting in a climate change world, and putting on a suit to be considered a job? And since we are talking about the media, is copy pasting Reuters articles on your site, a job?  Is wearing a silly shirt in front of an expensive camera crew, to present a mundane tv game show, a job? Should anyone who has anything to say, book a studio to say it? And is the studio a factor in one's quality of meaning?  Is Glen Beck more meaningful than anyone in any bedroom, because he has a studio? Have you been conditioned, to consider something appropriate, only when it happens inside a costly network tv studio? What if the bedroom has top notch microphones, lights,cameras and editing equipment, like most high viewership youtubers have? Besides the demonetization does not strike only bedroom youtubers, but also youtubers who have studios, employ assistants, researchers, animators and so on.   So C is an invalid statement. 

As automation and artificial intelligence grow further, Real Jobs, will become fewer, at least for a time. Education, Science, Medicine and Entertainment, are some of the last sectors, where the majority of the work load, will still be handled, by humans. As the Internet grew faster, making big budget productions that try to please every target group and taste like nothing, is less sensible. Having multiple entertainers and opinion makers, that cater to the specific aspects of their own audience, while having less costly production, is much more efficient, and has caught on, in the form of Youtube. Saying that people who get involved in all this don't have a real job, is like believing that installing seat belts or driving trucks, will be populous careers in 30 years.
I have chosen to not monetize my channel so far, and that's what a lot of other youtubers have done. That however should not force anyone, to not monetize, the hundreds of work hours that go into making watchable videos.  The people that on the one hand say Youtube is a private company blah blah, but on the other hand, say that making videos is not a job, kinda lose credibility. Besides, Youtube that is a private company, made it it's job, to host people's bedroom videos. The youtubers that are hit by the advertiser boycott, provide content for millions of people every day, and if that is not a job, then all the TV programs of all the past decades, were not a job either.

2) The Youtube platform.

Youtube has seen better days, when it comes to video sharing effectiveness and features. The false flagging and bogus copyright claims are still around. The Youtube practice, of keeping creators in the dark, about most changes that take place in the platform, has certainly attracted due criticism. Additionally videos not being organically promoted, and getting  shelved by the algorithm is also a thing. All these obstacles, have affected content creators, and in time, Youtube has to eventually deal with these issues. Nevertheless Youtube is still where one can find the most eyes for their videos. Despite its flaws, Youtube contains views and viewers from the entire sociopolitical spectrum, making it, the most visible platform of free discussion on the planet. Corporate media and governments, have clamped down on free speech, by removing comment sections, by filtering results, or by upholding bogus blasphemy and hate speech laws. In the midst of all this, Youtube and Google, have made a considerable effort, to maintain at least some semblance of Free Speech. If you consider, the German government, wants to make Youtubers and Twitch streamers, acquire licenses from the state to broadcast, you will realize, that Youtube has allowed, one way or another, views that can't be freely and massively distributed anywhere else.  As censorship, deplatforming and outrage activism continue to permeate Academia,  some lectures and debates, can only be safely watched or found on Youtube. Youtube has shown more spine than any of the other massive platforms, who have succumbed to pressure and sanitize/censor their discourse, like Twitter and Facebook.
Taking all that into consideration, Youtube, despite its flaws, is the biggest most visible home for Free speech right now. Free Speech is the basis for the peaceful and prosperous continuation of our society. If you do not realize why that is, I don't have the time to explain it all. Maybe you should study North Korea.  The only reason, Youtube ever became influential and popular, is that it hosted original, independent content, made by thousands of different creators, who could make content for all niche issues and communities. Youtube's success came from its creators, and all the innovations they made, on the art of video making. Now the old, failing media and overgrown governments, whose approval ratings are abysmal,  want to dictate, to Youtube and its content creators, what they should and should not do. But the people have voted. The people prefer to watch the breakdown of the news, by their favorite Youtubers, rather than by the spin doctors of the Mainstream Media. People prefer the variety of Youtube, to the often monotone and repetitive TV shows. People prefer organizing their videos around their life, with playlists and subscriptions, rather than organize their life, around their videos, in the manner traditional TV shows demand.

3) The Mainstream Media

If the Mainstream Media was just a market facing capital venture, then it would all be fine. But the Mainstream media, are so much more than that. The Mainstream media, are exclusive hotspots of public influence, owned by corporatists, who want to use that public influence to distort political life and public opinion, in a way that suits them better. They act as gatekeepers of information and narratives. The owners of the Mainstream Media, place more importance on the influence they have, rather than the profits. And we know this, because they insist on producing shows and publications that return diminished profits, but serve their own agendas. Many big media now belong, to companies, who make their main profits, outside the media providing industry itself.  Meanwhile, they use their publications to attack popular Youtubers, or Youtube itself, in an attempt to sabotage those who stole part of their influence.  If you think this is not so, that Media Corporations only sell programs and advertising, and that they never were after influencing public opinion, you are frankly too naive, to take part in this conversation. If you think that all aspects of life, including, war, corruption, influence, market moves, can be reduced to a Newtonian yes or no when they take place, you are not equipped for this conversation. Neither I nor anyone else, can educate people about anything and everything within one or two videos. If you don't follow the news, if you are unaware of past actions of corporations and governments, if you do not pay attention to the gradual onset of censorship and the degradation of public discourse, I can not make up for that. You have to inform yourself on these matters, form your own educated opinions, and then we can discuss the finer details of what is and is not going on. If corruption and market manipulation were so easy to discuss or to tackle, they would not be thriving.  The Mainstream media, are in the business of creating and maintaining narratives. In Youtube all the media narratives are broken down and analyzed by numerous commentators, and thus lose their appeal. At this point I will just remind you how the war on Iraq, was possible, only after the public was barraged with fake information, by most big media outlets for weeks. The notorious Nigerian Yellow cake and Sadam's supposed WMD arsenal, were canards, designed by governments, and promoted by the mainstream media, to gather public support for a war against Iraq. These issues cost lives, and just because the perpetrators, manage to divert attention from their actions, it does not mean we won't hold them accountable. Me and others will continue to make arguments, and provide relevant information, but those can't stand on a vacuum. You still ought have a minimal grasp on many issues, to fully participate in this conversation. You also have to be more receptive to stories and issues that are developing. After a series of events is completed, it is easier, to analyze the evidence and use hindsight. But we cannot afford to wait for all series of events to completely unfold, before we have a say on them. Right now, diversity of opinion, and integrity of information seem to be under threat, and many important people think so too. If this is indeed the case, but we do nothing, because the "Evidence", does not seem that clear yet, then we have lost this game for good. If later we find out, that indeed there were moves, against freedom of expression, with evidence and proof, we won't have the free speech to say it, to communicate it far and wide in society. The problem is that the evidence is here, but it still hasn't saturated all layers of this discussion. Angela Merkel was heard asking Mark Zuckeberg how they could quell dissenting opinions. The German Government, wants to force Youtubers to apply for broadcasting licenses. Independent sites, or personalities, like Pewdiepie, are the targets for defamation and slander by the Mainstream media. Whistle blowers and leakers like Wikileaks are routinely attacked by the Mainstream Media. Colleges deplatform gay, lesbian, Jewish, controversial, or academic speakers, under threats by marxist and authoritarian student unions and criminal elements. These barely scrape the top, of the mounting indications, that there is either collusion or confluence between Academia, Media and Governments, to make people conform to certain controlled narratives.
Let me remind you at this point, that before and after the US presidential elections, as well as before and after Brexit, the media was boiling with stories, that attacked independent outlets who they held responsible for these results. If the media themselves, are being hysterical, about losing the ability to predict and form public opinion, and you doubt it, you are not skeptical, you are willfully ignorant or bored.

4) Demonetization is not Censorship.

Many people have said, that Youtube creators, are not being censored by this Advertising boycott. Free speech, has been prosecuted, throughout history, under various pretenses, and in many manners. To consider prohibition by government the only form of censorship, is ahistorical. Censorship has different intensities, and methods. There is censorship by character assassination. Where someone can express themselves, only no one pays attention to them, despite the content of their speech.  There is censorship by marginalization, where some people have valid things to say, but they are allowed on platforms so small, they become inconsequential. There is censorship by disincentives. In this case, which closely matches the Youtube issue, censorship is achieved, by making it ever more laborious to produce and distribute dissenting opinions, and thus diminishing them.  Smart regimes, and companies, do not shoot people in back alleys to censor them. That would be too obvious, and it would defeat the purpose. Smart people, censor by using all available subtle methods. Once the views of their opponents are diminished by a thousand cuts, they fill the space with their own message and overtake them, in what seems like normal discourse. If you fail to recognize this, what you are saying, is that bad things, can come, only by noisy, obvious, psychotic, genocidal, mustachioed villains. #ReadAnotherBook

5) But if it's so important, they should do it for free.

When so many millions are spent on superfluous wasteful productions,  every year, I think that it is unfair to expect the people that provide some needed variety of input, to work for free. Hollywood films are alike, news outlets are alike, and they waste large part of their budget on marketing and looks. Nevertheless such productions absorb millions in funding. To demand that anyone outside the circuit, should work for free, is buying into the exclusivist rhetoric of conformist institutions. Why give some people so much strength, that it turns them to corrupt gate keepers, and deprive others of the means of a decent living? Why should we reward those who treat us like the common lowest denominator, and punish those who treat us like people? If let's say TJ Kirk, Pewdiepie or some other Youtuber, is not up to your standards, I will tell you that I would rather people watched TJ Kirk and Pewdiepie, rather than another hour of mainstream goo. And the beauty of Youtube is that if you do not like somebody, you can click to another universe of video producers waiting for you.   

6) Taking Youtube for granted.

Many people would say, we should not worry, it's a rough patch, Youtube will be here. Yes, it may well be here. Maybe it becomes the internet dump of Mainstream Media. Maybe it becomes one more sack of "same old". This is not good enough. Youtube became what it is, because of its content creators, and no third party should just be allowed, to take over that momentum for themselves.
Many people would say, who cares about Youtube? It was nice while it lasted. Do you remember the early wikileaks revelations?  The famous chopper video? Do you think it would catch on so much if it wasn't for Youtube? If you know that the war on Drugs, is a wasteful ineffective torture of souls, did you learn that on Youtube, or the mainstream media? Where have you heard the harshest criticisms of religion? On Youtube, or the Mainstream Media? Where do you find the most stimulating ideas, the most provocative arguments, the most thought provoking materials? On Youtube or the mainstream media?
Where do creationists, extremists and religious fanatics, get exposed in the most detailed way? On Youtube, or the Mainstream Media? 

7) Other independent platforms

Many people promote new platforms, that would take the place of Youtube, and maintain free speech. It is a good contingency plan, an interesting experiment, and an investment for the future of expression. I agree wholeheartedly. That however, does not diminish the need to defend Youtube. Youtube is the most populous video platform by far. Other similar platforms get only a tiny fraction of the attention and views Youtube receives. Youtube is also the only platform that attracts people from all sides of society, unlike other platforms who have narrower representation. Being bullied into leaving Youtube, and moving to smaller platforms, will be the marginalization of  dissenting and independent voices, at least for a time. Diversity of opinion, will be pushed to the side, in a tiny corner of the internet, where it can't reach massive audiences, and thus can't hurt mainstream narratives. Even if we go to another platform now, and make it big and successful like Youtube,  the corporate interests, will abandon Youtube after abusing it, and they will attack the new successful independent platform on the rise. And you know if these guys can get Google to bend, any other platform will bend. That's why we need to stop them this time around.

8) But the advertisers/corporations did not leave with the intend to hurt Youtube. There is no conspiracy!! They left to protect their public image.

In modern power dynamics, there is no need for dark rooms filled with cigar smoke, and the methods that power players use, are not necessarily violent or conspicuous. Any move the Mainstream Media and others would make against Youtube, would necessarily use the pathways by which they usually conduct business. Any action they take is almost seamlessly integrated into their daily activity. But there are details that stand out.
Every day there are hundreds of cancellations, and modifications of campaigns in the Ad industry. Usually they never reach news headlines, or create noise. Part of what advertisers do, is handle issues that come up in promotion, without attracting negative attention, that would taint the promotion. When advertising disputes attract attention, it is because some of the players involved, wanted it to be so. Such public moves, usually aim at influencing the market. Think about it! Why would they make noise, about their ads being on terrorist videos, if their purpose was to avoid the disgrace, of having their ads on terrorist videos? Are they that stupid? Hey, I am shocked people may see my ads play on terrorist videos, so let's make it known to the world, that my ads played on terrorist videos! Makes sense!
 The advertisers handling BBC, Pepsi or AT&T maybe technically the ones responsible for pulling out of Youtube, but such drastic actions are bound to have been discussed with their clients. Losing all ad presence from Youtube, the biggest video platform in the world, is a risky move that could affect a client's impressions and revenue. It is not something an agency would do lightly without advising with their client. The same goes for other advertisers. If companies, were genuinely just afraid of their ads playing on the wrong video, they would have their advertisers, quietly sort this out, with Youtube and Google departments. That is what companies usually do. Getting the public involved in corporate transactions is not the norm. This all becomes all the more suspicious, as these revelations, come right after a series of attacks against the character of Youtube and Youtubers. Moreover, the advertisers that collectively pulled out of Youtube in this dramatic move, have not presented accurate data, of how many impressions were they getting on inappropriate videos. Ad sense, is a vast network of online advertising. It manages to present, billions of ads, tailored to the tastes and locality of the user. Some wrong ad impressions, are both unimportant, and expectable. If advertisers were simply motivated by company interests, they would run a cost benefit analysis, and see that, a couple of wrong ad impressions on a sea of targeted online ads, amounts to no damage at all. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell told CNBC that advertisers boycotting video service YouTube "doesn't make sense".  Sorrel who is CEO of an Advertising company, also told CNBC that "Boycotting what is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful medium, doesn't make sense,". Additionally he stated that "you can't make things 100 percent brand safe." Brand exposure is unlikely to be flawless inside or outside Youtube and the internet. On TV, ads will play frequently in between shocking and upsetting News. Ads are shown by networks whose approval is barely around 1/3. Doesn't that mean that 70% of the people who see these ads, link brands to unfavorable Networks? How damaging is it for a company, to advertise on the Networks that are caught lying? How damaging is it, to advertise on CNN that has broadcasted lies to promote the acceptance of two or three recent wars? Does anyone pull ads from Networks, when they spread obvious lies? Did companies lose half their revenue, because they advertise on Networks who attacked Trump with yellow journalism? Does Pepsi know every bar that has their sign in it, and do they know if racists, bigots, or terrorists go to them? Does GM or Volkswagen know how many of their own cars are parked outside an extremist rally? Why don't companies ask for documentations of ideology, before they sell their stuff to people? Is racism or extremism evil only when it comes to advertising next to it, but not when they are taking the cash of racists and extremists? In a recent survey 52% of British Muslims thought that homosexuality should be illegal. Have companies stopped using Muslim family depictions in their adverts, in the UK? Have they stopped selling goods to Muslims? Are advertisers hypocrites, that are outraged when their brand is supposedly mishandled, but actually don't care about bigotry or extremism? Is the British public sector really that strict, with ads on extremist videos, when they had allowed hundreds of underage girls, to be groomed and serially raped for decades in Rotherham? Isn't this selective outrage too hypocritical to stand? 
9) But it is illegal to advertise next to terrorists!

Some say that organizations of the State like the BBC would face legal repercussions and fines, because advertising on hate speech is illegal. That is very convenient. Child rape is also illegal and the BBC sheltered a child rapist for decades. Even the investigations they ordered on this scandal have been called a whitewash. Besides BBC managers have not invested their money on the BBC. If the BBC gets a fine, the license fee payers will pay it. Some say that looking into the corruption and crimes of the BBC and other boycotters of Youtube is just an attempt to smear them. Well isn't the BBC and other boycotters, trying to smear Youtube as an unsafe platform? If they claim that they care for their reputation, should we not scrutinize that very reputation? Some say that the BBC is paid by the TV license fee, therefore, they do not feel threatened by the increasing expansion of Youtube, that diminishes mainstream media appeal. That is false. If the viewership and influence of the BBC, keeps declining, not only will they lose the ability to influence public opinion, but eventually they will lose funding as well.
10) The Ads made Youtube a corporate hellhole in the first place.

Youtube's functionality, is dependent upon a great quantity of quality hardware and software solutions. This is very costly. Youtube would resort to one method of gaining revenue or another. Advertising is still the most popular revenue method for media, so Youtube would try that anyway. Putting corporate ads on independent content is indeed a challenge, but this new field of advertising will have to grow and improve, because independent content and the views it attracts, will not go away.

11) How can the corporations make Youtube corporate by leaving?

Duh? This is a move common in markets. You first drain your opponent of revenue and then you buy them up or subdue them to your rules. It really takes minimal knowledge of market affairs to know this. The corporate advertisers that left Youtube, did more damage to the public image of Youtube rather than on its revenue. They pulled out dramatically, in order to create a cascade of advertiser departures from Youtube. And they got what they aimed for. Now that Youtube is in a weak position, they will easily compromise with corporate demands. If Youtube becomes a dump of corporate videos, you will now this had to do with it. 

12) The ads will come back Some say, that advertisers are bound to come back to Youtube.

While this is true, Youtube may not be Youtube anymore, once they come back. Youtube can now use this pretext to demonetize more and more content creators, intensifying an already draconian and unjust system of demonetization. Youtube has been twisting it's algorithms and functionality for years, in order to meet higher goals, but also to serve corporate wishes. Yes, the ads may come back. But every time corporations put pressure on Youtube, Youtube loses some functionality, and this has been happening for years. The constant corporate demands force Youtube to frequently intervene on the sensitive ecosystem of independent content, with devastating results for many content creators. The organic way videos used to spread and channels used to grow, is gone. Perhaps Youtube is so secretive of the changes they implement, because sharing information would expose corporate demands, or promotional tactics. The corporations, serve our needs, and sell us their products and services. Instead of them putting pressure on Youtube, to be more like them, we the consumers, should put pressure on corporations, to be more like Youtube instead. Many corporate campaigns are about diversity, and cherishing individuality, enjoying the moment, being inspired, free blah blah and how their products help that...well guess what? Youtube is all that.  Youtube is diversity, and about cherishing individuality, enjoying the moment, being inspired, free, those are all properties that have more to do with Youtube and independent creators, rather than corporate products. Maybe corporations should start taking their vapid campaigns seriously, and listen to the individual, cherish the moment, enhance individuality, and get BACK IN YOUTUBE, which nurtures all that already.

13) But they are private companies.

Many say that Youtube is a private company and they can do whatever they want! Well we are private citizens and we too can do whatever we want. We can criticize Youtube, for building a brand name on the backs of Youtube Creators, and now abandoning them to please corporate bullies. We can stand up and support the platform that was built with our sweat, and protect it from the unimaginative corporate suits that want to appropriate it for their needs.  We have the right to remind corporations, that they serve us, and we cherish Youtube, so they should back off. In the recent years and months, private companies had to deal with all sorts of vapid outrage activism. Target Australia had to pull GTA V from the shelves, to satisfy a few noisy offended types. Private cinemas cancel screenings of the Red Pill documentary, to appease patriarchy screamers. And on a tastier note, Coca cola had to ditch the New Coca Cola, to salvage their brand. Well this time, corporations will have to address some serious grievances for a change, and take their nasty hands of the biggest free expression platform in the world. Yeah, they are private companies, and we are the customers. This passive logic of "but they are private companies" is baseless.  Besides, free speech is the glue that keeps a society peaceful, therefore free speech does not only concern governments or activists. It should concern everyone involved in a stable society.

14) Advertisers and Companies should follow the audience, not the other way round.

 Corporations have numerous scandals and embarrassments in their past and present that are more or less known to many. Nevertheless they try to put forward, this fake facade of purity and luxurious innocence through their corporate promotion efforts. Stop it. We don't buy it. We don't think you are angels, and no amount of boring, sanitized, corporate advertising will change that. We just want your products and services, when they are convenient. We know you are not angels, and we don't care. After all we are not angels either. If you want your brands to gain our attention, know that our attention is on Youtube. No matter what rumors you make about Youtube, no matter how much you hurt its creators financially, you will not get people vibrantly interested in the legacy media again. You can't force people to love the old media again, and the more you try that, the more tainted your image becomes, to the audiences of new media. Once all sixty year olds are gone, corporate platforms will have a 0% of dedicated followers. Do you corporations seriously want to start a fight, with the most important demographic of customers you have?  If you do not advertise on us, we will advertise all the scandals and corruption in your recent history.

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