A recent settlement by YouTube with the Federal Trade Commission for $170 million has sent YouTube creators rushing 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 law. The FTC claims that YouTube violated the law by collecting personal information – mostly via Cookies – from viewers of child-directed channels, without obtaining parental consent.
The FTC said, “YouTube earned millions of dollars by using the identifiers, commonly known as cookies, to deliver targeted ads to viewers (aged under 13) of these channels, according to the complaint.” It isn’t just Google and YouTube that have come under fire; so too have advertisers who knowingly obtained this information for the purposes of targeted advertising. YouTube channel creators have also been affected, with many finding that they are forced to make key changes to ensure their content is targeted at an older demographic.
No Cookies, No Adsense
Many YouTubers rely on their channel as their primary source of income, and if they want to do so, they will need to continue attracting advertising. This means ceasing to post any content that may attract views from children – including content centered on gaming, unboxing toys and computer games, and content reporting on young influencers. Thus far, children have formed an important part of many top YouTubers’ content.
Coincidence Or Strategy?
The world’s most followed individual on YouTube, PewDiePie, for instance, frequently uploads Minecraft videos in addition to content aimed at older audiences, such as meme reviews and commentary on YouTube news. Ironically, this influencer claims he chose to make a return to MineCraft simply because of his predilection for the game. At a time when the popularity of MineCraft had waned, he revived the game, with many children foregoing more popular choices like Fortnite or Roblox to take up this now rather nostalgic game. YouTube analysts might argue, however, that PewDiePie’s choice of content is actually a wise strategic choice.
Creators themselves can gauge the nature of their audience through likes and comments. To gauge the importance of this interaction for content creation, a great example can be found at Social Media Daily, which picks up on the vital connection between content and intended reach.
A Speedy Reaction
As reported in The Verge, several prominent content creators have already made key changes to ensure their channels continue to thrive. MyFroggyStuff and Rob of Art for Kids (with 2.1M and 1.9M subscribers, respectively) have already posted videos letting their followers know that some changes are up ahead. Titles and content will be different, in an effort to avoid being classified as children’s content and losing out on vital revenue.
YouTube itself will have a wide kid’s content category as of 1st January, 2020. Creators wishing to survive the big changes need to ensure they aim their content at audiences aged 13 and over. The nature of their videos may require change, but without a doubt, the savviest will continue to thrive, despite the fact that they will no longer be able to run targeted advertisements or send new video notifications. All their comments will also have to be turned off.