Tag Archives: YouTube

I’m Not Sure What I’m Trying to Sell You: The Problem with YouTube Red

What if I told you there was a subscription service out there with exclusive, original video content and a huge library of music you can watch and listen to at your leisure? YouTube has entered the streaming service ring with their own paid subscription service, YouTube Red, that boasts exclusive content, an ad free viewing experience, and offline options that subscribers can enjoy. So where has the buzz been for YouTube Red and why is every video for YouTube Music buried in dislikes?

YoutubeBefore we get into it, let’s go over what YouTube Red actually is and how it works. YouTube Red is a monthly paid subscription service where users are allowed access to YouTube’s exclusive, original content, an ad free viewing experience, background usage on mobile devices, and the ability enjoy downloaded videos and music offline. Since Google owns YouTube, a Red subscription also nets you access to Google Play’s large library of music in addition to YouTube’s selection. YouTube Red is priced at $9.99 per month – the same as Netflix.

Unfortunately for Google, the reception for the announcement of YouTube Red has been less than desirable. The beginning of the marketing hardships began with the announcement of YouTube Red in late October of 2015. The announcement was immediately met with aggressive criticism from both users and content creators on YouTube. Users who were excited by this announcement, however, are those subscribed to Google’s monthly “All Access” subscription, as the two services will be consolidated.

Why are consumers unhappy with this announcement? Apart from a single video advertising YouTube Red, nobody really understands what YouTube Red is supposed to be. The advertisement tells consumers about the advantages of having YouTube Red, but doesn’t do a good job about what YouTube Red is supposed to be. In fact, YouTube itself, disregarding the subscription service struggles to identify itself clearly. There’s educational content, gaming videos, reviews, advertisements, short films, tutorials, music, and so much more. The identity of YouTube depends entirely on the user.

As a music streaming platform, YouTube is number one. To cater to the music listening audience, and make an attempt at viral marketing, YouTube released several YouTube Music ads celebrating diversity involving subjects of different racial backgrounds and gender identities. Considering the timing of these advertisements, you could say this is a direct response to Donald Trump’s political campaign from 2016. Many Internet users rallied behind companies that stood up for diversity, and while YouTube’s approach seemed like a good idea, the campaign was negatively received. The advertisements showed up incredibly frequently, weren’t very well executed, and to add insult to injury, were unskippable. Which is unfortunate considering what appears to be a genuine attempt at acknowledging their diverse user base.

Apart from co-existing with Google Play, which is also owned by Google, and not expressly stated as being independent, or the same service, consumers were incredibly confused at what YouTube was trying to accomplish with these ads other than the aforementioned “celebration of diversity.” Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO said, “YouTube gives people of any race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or interest a place to come together and a place to belong.” An admirable sentiment about an incredibly powerful and diverse online platform that anyone can use. The source of this campaign’s failure lies within YouTube’s failed ability to brand themselves.

If you were asked what YouTube stands for, what would you respond with? Is it what YouTube really stands for or what you think it stands for? I think Observer nailed what was missing when they said, “YouTube carries everything—so it stands for nothing. No one knows what YouTube believes in, so no one cares what YouTube believes in. And you don’t pay for something when you don’t know what it means.”

Ultimately, I conclude that YouTube’s marketing failed in this aspect. Celebrating the one year anniversary of YouTube Red, numbers suggest they have roughly 1.5 million subscribers. Twitch Prime – has roughly 1.9 million subscribers within the first four months of its release. So what do you think? Would you purchase a YouTube Red subscription? Did YouTube’s lack of brand identity cause the negative reception of their service announcement? Comment below!

Kevin Thorn

Amazon’s Video Game Power Grab with Twitch Prime

In 2014, Amazon bought the massive streaming service known as Twitch. Three years later Twitch now has a paid membership known as Twitch Prime that is free if one is already an Amazon Prime member. Meanwhile, Twitch has reached out to a multitude of video game companies in an attempt to gather a larger audience.

Twitch and video games are already tied together. Twitch is primarily used to stream video games of all varieties, but YouTube also has a massive presence in the video game community. Google owns YouTube and Amazon is competing with Google. That is the strategy behind why Amazon bought Twitch. One of Google’s largest properties is YouTube, and Twitch is something that can compete with and maybe someday rival YouTube. Amazon wants to take on Google, so they started by competing with one of its largest money makers.

But will this strategy work?

With Twitch Prime, this strategy may stand a chance. Twitch has been expanding in recent years, but YouTube is still a colossus. It is reasonable to think that YouTube can’t be competed with, but if that was true then why did Google try to buy Twitch?


Twitch has a great foothold in the videogame market that is actively growing thanks to Twitch Prime. This new service that is directly related to Amazon Prime allows members free  “game loot” by making partnerships with various video game companies. This cross promotion is important and done with multiple gaming companies. I will be using Hi-Rez as an example.

TwitchHi-Rez is the gaming studio responsible for the hit MOBA Smite. While only a few years old, Smite has over 25 million players and is growing. In the month of January, Twitch Prime focused on promoting Smite. Exclusive skins, chest rolls, and access to an event were given to Twitch Prime members. These things would either have to be bought or were not attainable otherwise.

Twitch Prime also went as far as to host Smite’s World Championship in association with Coca-Cola. This is a huge step that promotes Twitch Prime, Hi-Rez, and Amazon all at once. Amazon Prime members get Twitch Prime for free, so if a subscriber has an interest in video games obtaining Twitch Prime is easy and painless. Once that subscriber has Twitch Prime, they would be immediately made aware of Smite and its world championship that they could watch for free. After watching, they may be interested in the game which is free too.

This chain of events is beneficial to all three companies without forcing the individual to jump through a multitude of hoops. It is a creative, yet simple way Amazon is using Twitch to compete with YouTube and by extension, compete with Google.

So far, the strategy is effective. It worked on me, as I am an avid Smite player and had not heard about Twitch Prime until Hi-Rez began to advertise it. I already have an Amazon Prime membership, so it was easy for me to get Twitch Prime.

It is working now; however, that does not mean it will continue to work. The biggest roadblock that Amazon has is that it is trying to compete with Google. While Google is already a difficult company to compete with, YouTube is its own headache. While Twitch is growing, it has a long way to go before it can overpower YouTube.

That begs the question, is it possible to overpower YouTube? Can Amazon compete with Google like this? Will Twitch only rest in its large, but specific video game market? YouTube meanwhile has a multitude of video markets with video games being only one.

Only time will tell if Amazon’s strategy will continue to work. Companies like Hi-Rez will continue to benefit in the meantime. The trifecta of marketing is running smoothly, but will it ever gain enough momentum to overpower its rivals?

Sam King

“New” Advertiser-Friendly Policy: Is YouTube Taking Away Freedom of Speech?

It all started on Wednesday August 31, 2016. The world was in shock. People lashed out on twitter and other forms of social media saying that YouTube is now censoring YouTubers, violating and taking away freedom of speech. The hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty was trending worldwide by the following day as everyone proclaimed this was the end of YouTube.

youtubeSo what happened? On Wednesday August 31, 2016, YouTubers, started receiving emails about their videos being demonetized, meaning they would not earn any money from their videos. Famous YouTuber Philip DeFranco (with 4 million subscribers!) made a video about this topic that received almost over 6 million views and started the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty. By September 1st, both the video and the hashtag were trending worldwide.

Philip DeFranco’s YouTube video: “YouTube Is Shutting Down My Channel and I’m Not Sure What To Do”

DeFranco explained in his video that YouTube released a “new” advertiser friendly policy which explained what content would cause a video to get demonetized. DeFranco wasn’t the only YouTuber affected by this. He states in his videos that other content creators on YouTube received emails about some of their videos being demonetized. This also started a wave of YouTube videos with titles such as “I’m Quitting YouTube” or “YouTube is Dead”.

What content is deemed “advertiser un-friendly” is also an issue. Many YouTubers and their audience argued this is a form of censorship, as swearing and sexual humor can get videos demonetized. One of the most controversial topics however, deemed inappropriate for advertising is: “controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.”

One million subscribers YouTuber Einshine argues in his video “YouTube is Making me Quit, Time to get a New Job?” that a previous video he made regarding his experience as a victim of the 3/11 Japan Earthquake in which he stated that all money he gained from ads in that video would be donated to charity to help Japan after the tragedy can be demonetized following the “new” guidelines.

Another argument made by YouTubers that this policy is going against freedom of speech, is that some YouTubers comment on or include news in their videos and therefore show violent or sensitive subjects even though it is not their own content and could still be penalized for it.

youtube policy
YouTube’s Advertiser-friendly content guidelines

YouTube has responded by stating that these guidelines are not new. In fact, YouTube has been demonetizing content deemed “not advertiser-friendly” since 2013. So what changed? According to YouTube, they’ve updated their notifications system. This means that before, YouTubers would get their videos demonetized but would not be aware of it, now they will receive an email about it.

YouTube also has an appeal system where YouTubers can make a request to get their videos re-monetized. While this works for some, others have had their appeal denied, keeping their videos demonetized.  DeFranco argues in his video “YouTube Responded, But It Gets Even More Confusing…” that this hurts smaller YouTubers that depend on the initial views to make their living. By having a video demonetized as soon as it’s posted, the YouTuber is losing the revenue opportunity while the initial views come pouring in as it takes time for the appeal to take affect.

I do believe YouTube is using a form of censorship, but I do not think YouTube is taking away freedom of speech. Many YouTubers have successfully been appealed their. Even if YouTubers aren’t getting money from their videos, their content is still accessible for everyone to see.

YouTube is a private company and they are well within their rights to implement these guidelines. After all, the content shown on their website represents and reflects them as well as the advertisers.

I believe that there is a communication problem between YouTube and its content creators. I think YouTube is finally taking a good step in updating their notification program but this could have been done much sooner. A solution to YouTubers losing money could be for YouTube to communicate quicker and more directly with YouTubers, letting them know before their content is demonetized allowing them to make an appeal while still making revenue off their views.

What do you think? Is YouTube violating freedom of speech or creating a form of censorship? Considering this policy isn’t new, what has changed now that content creators on YouTube are aware of this policy? Considering ad-blockers, do you think this issue is even relevant?

Clara Tosi