Every time I sit down to start an assignment, I find myself distracted by a notification, and then, two hours later, I am found watching a video of a cat. And that is when I know that I am beyond help.
Do you search for a place that will inspire you and leave you questioning your existence at the same time?
Then YouTube is the place for you.
Now, most people know YouTube as a place to find music videos, prank videos and Mallu-Porn, but here lies one of the biggest communities in the online world: YouTubers, or people who post content on YouTube and garner followers. These people can own accounts where they post videos about Dancing, Let’s Plays, Life Style, Beauty Tips, Self Help or just being a prat, and these accounts are followed by people all over the world. These YouTubers, however ridiculous their jobs might sound, are known to have over a million subscribers, the highest currently being 43, 240,882 million people, all subscribed to a YouTuber called ‘PewDiePie’. As hilarious and pointless his name might sound (did I mention that there is a channel called ‘The Pointless Blog’), PewDiePie, or Felix Kjellberg is famous for playing games, recording his reactions and posting them online (all from home) and currently is worth $12,000,000.
In India, All India Backchod (or AIB) have some of the highest followers (1,541,617 people) and are known for their politically incorrect content and tongue in cheek humour. They have sponsored videos and a high viewership; all helping them rake in the moolah.
And how exactly do these people, whose job description includes talking into a camera at home in their pyjamas, earn enough to continue their lifestyle you ask? The answer is us. Normal people who procrastinate online all day (I’m talking about myself here) and are forced to watch advertisements before we can indulge ourselves in a Danisnotonfire marathon (sigh!). Viewers will probably watch at least 30 seconds of an Ad. As long as they aren’t using AdBlock, this will make the YouTubers some money. YouTube tallies up the revenue they make from ads, and then splits that profit with the channel owner. However, Advertisers only pay when someone clicks an ad or watches it for 30 seconds. This is why contents creators can’t compare views to dollars. If your video gets ten million views but nobody watches or click the ads, you don’t make any money. But the more popular a channel is, the more are the chances of the advertiser getting someone to click on their ad. Money can come from a few different places, including add revenue from CPMs.
For someone with no economic knowledge as I, this is what CPM means: If a website publisher charges $2 CPM, that means an advertiser must pay $2 for every 1,000 impressions of its ad. CPM is the most common method for pricing web ads. M stands for the Roman numeral for 1000.
YouTube takes a 45% cut and the rest goes to the YouTuber. So the You Tuber, who gets on average 600k+ views a week, will end up with around $1-3k a week from CPMs. How much money the YouTuber actually takes home will depend on many factors, including how expensive the videos are to make, and how attractive the content is to advertisers.
The following are a few types of ads that companies can have featured on a YouTube channel:
- Pre-Roll Ads are the ads that act as a preview before the video starts and viewers can skip it after 5 seconds.
- In-Search Ads show up in the search results and are surrounded by a light yellow box.
- In-Display Ads show up on the right side of YouTube in the suggested video area
- And unlike advertising CPMs, dollars made through product placements aren’t usually shared with YouTube.
What about the ‘Skip’ option with the ad? Won’t that have the channel owner lose out on a lot of money?
The truth is that the skip isn’t chosen by channel, it is by the advertiser for two reasons:
- It makes Google’s platform much more user friendly. If you aren’t interested in the ad you can skip, rather than sit through something that annoys you. It makes having ads on the platform much more palatable for users.
- It weeds out users who are not interested in your product for advertisers. Say you like scarfs, if an ad about scarfs comes on that 90% of people skipped it. If you watched it you are easily identifiable as a high value lead that we can target with further advertising.
Money is also earned through sponsored videos. My favourite channels are Danisnotonfire (owned by Dan Howell) and AmazingPhil (created by Phil Lester). They together have a joint gaming account (very creatively) called DanAndPhilGames. And on this channel, well, they take a leaf out of Pewdiepie’s book and film themselves playing games. This format of YouTube videos is not uncommon. In fact, most of the biggest content creators on the site feature let’s plays (gaming videos).it is on such channels that big gaming companies sponsor videos, asking these YouTubers to play their games and show the world how good they really are. This is where they make most of their dough, as most of these channels have a minimum viewership of a million people, and so, these companies have as many potential buyers. The best (or worst for us viewers I guess,) part is that bored gullible people like myself find ourselves with the need to have the same experiences as the people we look up to (in this case, YouTube celebrities) and thus, go out and buy these games.
Sponsored videos don’t just stop at video games however. The popularity of channels offering beauty tips and life style channels like those run by Zoey Sugg (Zoella), Louise (Sprinkle of Glitter) and Scherezade Shroff, offers cosmetics companies and high end designers to display their products to the world, by sponsoring certain videos or through product placement. If Zoey Sugg tells her 10,423,742 subscribers to use a particular kind of eyeliner, one can be sure that at least a million of those people will go out and buy it, putting money in the pockets of both their favourite YouTube personality as well as the cosmetic company.
YouTubers also sell merchandise, apps, books, music and clothing. In the year 2015, ‘The Amazing Book is not on Fire’, the biography written by MY FAVOURITE YouTubers (as mentioned before), Dan Howell and Phil Lester, became a New York Times bestseller a week after its release (of course I own a copy! Judge me all you want). Similarly, books like ‘This Book Loves You’ (PewDiePie), ‘Girl Online’ (the fastest-selling debut novel ever) (Zoella), ‘Binge’ (Tyler Oakley) and ‘A Work in Progress’ (Connor Franta) have all topped charts and have helped their authors make a lot of money. These books have made it to the ‘must read’ lists of various sites and are still in demand, much after their release.
Zoella has also launched her own line of cosmetics called ‘Zoella Beauty’. Similarly, Dan, Phil and many others like them have their own clothing merchandise that can be bought from all over the world. The management of these sites is either outsourced to a parent company like District Lines, or is solely managed by the YouTuber (in the case of Dan and Phil). Some like Troye Sivan have launched a successful music career, in addition to their YouTube channels where they would once post videos of them singing covers.
Dan and Phil have also launched an app! A gaming app called the ‘7 Second Challenge’ that is available on both the iStore and the Google app store. In India, this app costs Rs. 148.52 per download, and judging by their combined viewership of 7,000,000, this app is bringing them some serious money.
If one thinks that all this is enough for a celebrity to live comfortably, then he’s mistaken. There is more that people from this community do. ‘Touring’ is a new trend that has started amongst these creators. Many have already completed their tours and many have one planned for the future. Lilly Singh (AKA Superwoman) just finished her worldwide tour through 25 countries, called ‘A Trip to Unicorn Island’. She sold over a 100,000 tickets, each going for around $30. Similarly, for the second leg of their ‘Amazing Tour is Not on Fire’ Tour, Dan and Phil are performing in over 30 cities, selling over 10,000 tickets in every city for $45 each. Even as someone who cannot do math to save her life, I can tell that this is MAD MONEY.
These people, though only making videos in the comfort of their homes, have managed to reach out to people all over the world. People who are willing to spend money on their merchandise, just to feel a little closer to their idols.
I am not one to idolise a celebrity appearing in movies or on TV, I like them, but am indifferent to their cause, however, people like Dan Howell and Phil Lester make videos that I can watch during troubling times, that talk about things that I face every day, showing me that I’m not alone. I guess this is why it is no big surprise that their followers often break the internet.
YouNow had so many hits due to Danisnotonfire and AmazingPhil fans, that it took a day to reconfigure itself and to start working normally.
Apart from being a place to share videos and views, YouTube has managed to create a small world within itself- The world of YouTubers and their fans. This world has now extended to other sites like twitter, deviant art and Tumblr, in the form of fan posts, fan fiction (Stay Away) and YouTuber- fan interactions.
See mom, I was right! You can make money from home while sitting in your pyjamas and doing nothing!
That’s it for this assignment though, a new video was just uploaded and I must be the first person to comment on it. A word of advice, if you are yet to discover the vortex of hell that is watching videos on YouTube, RUN. Run and never look back.