Over the last year, YouTube has been working to improve its relationship with creators, after various decisions in the past which have negatively impacted monetization, distribution and more.
Those efforts have seen significant improvements in its systems, and have been largely welcomed by the creative community - but then, earlier this month, the platform announced that it generated some $15 billion in ad revenue for 2019, up 36% from the previous year.
That's obviously a great result for YouTube, but creators have rightfully questioned where their cut of that huge chunk of change might be. While the systems have improved, if YouTube is generating billions off their work, there's seemingly more opportunity for better revenue share and profit mechanisms for them. That means that YouTube may need to do more to facilitate better relationships, and ensure that its creators have an even stronger voice into the future.
Aligning with this, YouTube has this week announced the appointment of a new "Head Creator Liason" who will be tasked with advocating on behalf of creators from inside the company.
Job news! I'm in a new gig as Head Creator Liaison @YouTube. I'll still tweet from here, but anything more official & stuffy might be from @YouTubeLiaison. Goal is to help creators understand YouTube, and vice versa. Complicated stuff on both sides. https://t.co/p5ZeUU6pvz— Matt Koval (@mattkoval) February 24, 2020
As reported by The Verge, new Creator Liason Matt Koval is a former YouTube creator himself, who then joined the company as a content strategist in 2012. As Koval notes in his tweet, his role will be to help creators better understand YouTube, and what can be done to assist them, while also providing the creator angle in relevant internal discussions.
It seems like a step in the right direction - while YouTube is also exploring new revenue opportunities for creators, including an option which would enable them to sell ad space direct to advertisers. That option is in limited testing at present, but it could provide another avenue for creators to maintain more control over what has become a full-time business for many.
Indeed, in an update posted back in August, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki noted that YouTube's creative community has facilitated over 28,000 full-time jobs in Canada alone, while the number of channels earning more than $100,000 continues to climb 40% year over year. The platform has become a critical source of income for many - which, inevitably, also leads to increased sensitivity around any platform changes or updates. Which is why a role like Creator Liason is necessary.
And ideally, it will also help YouTube keep creators aligned to its platform. With Facebook still working to build upon its own video ambitions, through Facebook Watch and IGTV, and other, newer challengers like TikTok seeking to provide their own revenue streams, YouTube knows that it also needs to keep its creators happy, in order to keep fresh content flowing through.
At $15b in revenue, YouTube is in a strong position, but if some of its top creators were to shift focus, and take their audience with them, that could still be a significant blow.
Given this, it'll be worth keeping an eye on what Koval does in the role, and if/how that leads to the launch of new monetization products and tools to help YouTube creators.
And then, as these new options do arrive, what that will mean for marketing outreach and your options through increasingly influential YouTube creators.