A recent $170 million settlement between YouTube and the Federal Trade Commission has prompted YouTube creators to change the nature of their content. Just last week, the FTC announced that both Google and YouTube would have to pay a record $170 million for alleged violations of children’s privacy laws. The FTC alleges that YouTube broke the law by collecting personally identifiable information — mostly via cookies — from viewers of child-directed channels without obtaining parental consent.
The FTC said, “YouTube has made millions of dollars by using identifiers commonly known as cookies to deliver targeted advertising to viewers (under the age of 13) of those channels, the complaint says.” It’s not just Google and YouTube, who have come under fire; This also applies to advertisers who knowingly received this information for the purpose of targeted advertising. YouTube channel creators are also being impacted, as many are finding they are being forced to make important changes to ensure their content is targeted towards an older demographic.
No cookies, no AdSense
Many YouTubers rely on their channel as their main source of income, and if they want that, they need to keep attracting ads. This means no more posting of content that could draw children’s attention – including content focused on games, toy unboxing and computer games, and content reporting on young influencers. Until now, children have been an important part of the content of many top YouTubers.
Coincidence or strategy?
For example, the world’s most followed person on YouTube, PewDiePie, frequently uploads Minecraft videos, in addition to content geared towards an older audience, such as meme reviews and comments on YouTube news. Ironically, this influencer claims he decided to return to MineCraft simply because of his love for the game. He revived the game at a time when MineCraft’s popularity had waned, with many kids forgoing more popular options like Fortnite or Roblox in favor of taking up this now rather nostalgic game. However, YouTube analysts might argue that picking PewDiePie’s content is actually a smart strategic decision.
Creators themselves can gauge the nature of their audience based on likes and comments. To appreciate the importance of this interaction for content creation, a great example can be found at Social Media Daily, which addresses the crucial connection between content and desired reach.
A quick reaction
As reported in The Verge, several prominent content creators have already made important changes to ensure their channels continue to thrive. MyFroggyStuff and Rob of Art for Kids (with 2.1 million and 1.9 million subscribers, respectively) have already posted videos letting their followers know that some changes are coming. Titles and content will be different to avoid being categorized as children’s content and losing important revenue.
YouTube itself will have a broad children’s content category from January 1, 2020. Creators who want to survive the big changes need to make sure they target their content for an audience aged 13+. The nature of their videos may need to change, but no doubt the brightest will continue to thrive despite no longer being able to serve targeted ads or send new video notifications. All of their comments must also be disabled.