New Criticals

In addition to the platform’s ever-changing views, fluctuations in a content producer’s revenue may occur for at least three reasons. First, the value of a view tends to be mitigated by whether or not the view generated an “impression,” industry parlance for the number of advertisements “served” to a consumer in a particular view. For example, a video generates two impressions if a consumer sees two advertisements, but this may only count as one view. Likewise, a viewer that sees no advertisements generates no impressions and thus no revenue. This may affect the calculation of views and revenue. Second, views may be deemed illegitimate if they stem from content that violates the platform’s copyright rules or community guidelines. In those cases, the platform may strip the content-producers’ revenue from those views. The following explanation from a manager at a YouTube production network was echoed by a number of Creators with whom I spoke:

YouTube is very coy about their algorithms. They don’t want to give us too much information. For instance, you know, there’s different kinds of strikes that you can get on videos. … [YouTube] will choose either to leave it up or take it down. So when I contact YouTube and I’m like “Hey, this video received a community guidelines strike, like, I reviewed the video personally and I don’t really see anything in there that I believe violates the community guidelines strike, can you give me a little more information on that.” YouTube will generally be like “no, we can’t, but you know, just know that we did review it and we found it to be in violation and it will expire in two weeks” so then we say “Okay, that’s that.”

Third, views may be removed if the platform detects “suspicious” activity. Here, creators described equally ambiguous responses from the platform. As a creator said, “It just said in the initial email that [YouTube] sent me that there was suspicious click-activity on my channel.”