In the past 5 years, reports of withheld earnings have reached an uproar, and program bans have been handed out with a frenzy among some of the largest publishing companies. Folks from all around the world, who have been content creators of both media and written word have seen incomes slashed and income sources dried up entirely. They’ve even become quite vocal about their frustrations and anger with publishing companies.
This has led to widely-known creators to shift to product-based business models — creating their very own lines of products — and deriving earnings from funding sites for artists, like Patreon, to support their creative endeavors. The pursuit of a better-paying video platform has begun.
Withholding earnings from publishers is a move we condemn wholly. It erodes affiliate confidence, leading them to seek income sources elsewhere. Major platforms for video may not be at risk now, but in the near-term future both shareholders and the laid-off employees of these companies will notice the pinch from lost advertising revenue (i.e., “don’t destroy the very people creating your best content!”).
We focus solely on Youtube in this article because it is the most widely publicized last year and highlights the illness most vividly. Despite our focus, you should know this is industry-wide — a practice that erodes public trust and harms both these companies in the long-term and the content creators themselves who depend largely on the major publishing sites and / or major affiliate programs.
1. Incomes have been slashed
People who make content on sites like Youtube or advertise with programs like Amazon Associate or Google Adsense have seen their incomes slashed tremendously over the past 5+ years. From bans to limits to income (automatic income ceilings), the incomes have gone down, down, down.
The most notable examples of demonetization in the media:
- PewDiePie made it widely know that he has had a battle over income earnings, and he still hasn’t seen paychecks for tens of thousands of dollars for his works.
- PhilDeFranco has faced attacks on the earnings of his videos because of swearing and even his views. The hostility toward content that is sought out indicates an unhealthy, self-defeating process developing within publishing companies.
- The Report of the Week faced demonetization of its videos despite being entirely educational and informational.
- There are countless examples of advertising platform Adsense, Amazon and others doing similiar things – bans, ceilings and policy-based “reasons” for withholding fair pay to creators/advertisers.
2. Incomes slashed using various policy violation claims – unfounded and unfair
The use of variety of false claims against policy-keeping content creators has led the industry of affiliate marketing to close accounts, limit earnings or steal earnings based on the opinions of the content creators.
These limits and bans are unfair and most users are completely innocent of wrongdoing.
Here are a list of tactics used by the industry currently:
- Violation of policy tactic– a rule is used to withhold earnings completely, conceal partial earnings or delay earnings.
- Concealing actual income earned using a dashboard (technology tactic).When a user has to depend on reporting from the same company that is profiting from them, it is an act of bad-faith to alter the advertising console in order to conceal clicks, purchases, and increase refunds, or even give commissions only on low-cost items reducing overall income for the affiliate.
- Outright ban- this tactic involves simply silencing the content creator by removing their account with or without notice. The ban is usually permanent and may only be rectified if the user becomes so vocal it damages the company public relations.
- Slander and hate speech labels-this tactic involves blaming the content creator for inciting hate, when they are expressing a legitimate, courteously expressed opinion. For example, talking about a local school board as failing to provide a safe school environment may be considered hate speech and result in withheld earnings, or even a permanent earnings ban from these programs.
Needless to say, all of these tactics are in bad-faith and unfair, if not illegal, even with “legal policies” in place legitimizing theft of fair earnings.
3. Large erosion of trust for major publishing programs seen widely
When we first heard stories of publishers being banned from Google Adsense and Amazon Associates program, it seemed like only smaller publishers and very rare companies faced bans and limits to earnings.
Many people didn’t believe their Youtube or Adsense or Amazon earnings could be slashed, if they did nothing wrong. They believed these companies to be fair and acting in good-faith when they heard about a million dollar check withheld from a viral media website.
…but in 2015 onward, the “genie” shot out of the bottle, as publishers frequently applied bans and ceilings to incomes to honest, hard working content creators who had no previous or current policy violations.
4. Examples of misapplied policies and erosion of trust toward major affiliate companies
The Report of the Week, a YouTube publisher who earns ad revenue from food reviews had his 478,000+ subscriber channel’s videos demonetized. This was a stunning move by Youtube/Google because the reviewer keeps a tidy channel that doesn’t violate any policies whatsoever, providing friendly, accessible content that neither infringes the rights of others, nor misleads.
Nonetheless, the author of this channel has had to fight off demonetization and now has been seeking the support of his audience on sites like Patreon.
When users who create wholesome content are being banned from earning their fair share of affiliate income — why would any platform expect growth in the future users of their affiliate programs?
“It’s going to drive people to other platforms even more than they already are.” – Vice.com
Phil Defranco on Adsense: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbph5or0NuM
PewDiePieo Adsense: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61686cq6s7c