YouTube to run ads on videos, monetized or not

Not monetizing your videos? Not eligible to? Too bad. YouTube plans to monetize them anyway, running ads on them, and keep all the money for itself.

When advertisements run on YouTube videos, those creators typically receive a portion of the revenue through their role in YouTube's Partner Program. With the new monetization rules, a creator who is not in the partner program "may see ads on some of your videos," according to an update to the platform's Terms of Service.

Prior to the update, YouTube says these videos only received ads in limited circumstances, like if they were monetized by a record label as part of a copyright claim. The update will mostly affect smaller creators without a huge viewership; YouTube's Partner Program requires creators to have accrued 4,000 total hours of watch time over the last 12 months and have more than 1,000 subscribers.

This makes YouTube trivially useless for any purpose for which advertising would be inappropriate: instructional videos, portfolios of work, movie trailers (!), music videos (!!), public service announcements, and so on. Obviously the likes of Vevo and Hollywood studios will be exempt, as will people and organizations who have established channels with a large enough following to qualify for the partner program. But the age of YouTube as something you can just toss a video on is coming to an end. Indeed, it is time to start thinking about what happens when YouTube gets in a clean-out-the-clutter mood and starts eyeing all those old, low-traffic clips.