This could cause some annoyance for YouTube creators.
This week, YouTube has announced an update to its Terms of Service which, most notably, includes a new provision that will enable YouTube to insert ads into content that's not part of the YouTube Partner Program.
In other words, if you chose not to put ads in your YouTube video, YouTube's probably going to do it anyway - but you won't gain any subsequent revenue from those ads unless you sign up to YPP.
As explained by YouTube:
"Starting today, we’ll begin slowly rolling out ads on a limited number of videos from channels not in YPP. This means as a creator that’s not in YPP, you may see ads on some of your videos. Since you’re not currently in YPP, you won’t receive a share of the revenue from these ads, though you’ll still have the opportunity to apply for YPP as you normally would once you meet the eligibility requirements."
Many creators over the years have opted not to put ads into their YouTube clips. Back in 2017, reports suggested that Australian musician Gotye had turned down over $10 million in revenue on his YouTube channel because he refused to insert ads into his clips. That choice meant that people could view a creators' content without disruption - but now, it looks like YouTube's going to chuck ads in those clips anyway. So, really, creators probably should sign-up to the monetization program.
It's hard to estimate how many YouTube videos this change will impact, but it could lead to a significant increase in available ad space on the platform. That will provide YouTube with a lot more revenue opportunities - while it could also provide more ways for advertisers to reach relevant audiences.
In addition to this, YouTube has also added in a new clarification to explicitly ban the harvesting of facial recognition data from YouTube clips, while US creators that are part of the YouTube Partner Program will now also see their revenue payments from YouTube treated as royalties, from a tax perspective.
"Google will withhold taxes from these payments if it is required by law. US creators will generally be unaffected by these withholding taxes as long as they provide valid tax documentation in Adsense."
The changes go into effect from today in the US, and will come into effect for other nations in mid-2021.
You can read a full rundown of each specific YouTube ToS update here.
UPDATE: YouTube has announced that it's rolling out these changes to all regions from June 1st, 2021.