YouTube traffic is on the rise amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s not translating into greater earnings for video creators.
The New York Times reported last week that YouTube traffic is up 15%.
However, YouTube channels are reportedly earning less money amidst a surge in viewership.
The same reason why viewership is up is also the reason why YouTubers are bringing in less money despite increased views.
Pandemic Raises Viewership, Lowers Advertising Rates
As Chris Stokel-Walker points out in a report published to Medium’s OneZero, advertising rates on YouTube have dropped by nearly 50% since the beginning of February.
“Everyone is pausing their campaigns on YouTube,” the report says.
Roberto Blake, a YouTuber who also runs ads on the platform, is quoted in the report saying YouTubers have it worse than others right now when it comes to advertising CPM (the amount of revenue earned per thousand views).
“People I know are going down from $8 to $5.50. I’m seeing people go down from $12 to $4,” says Blake.
Considering the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, coupled with a rapidly changing consumer landscape, it’s no wonder companies are reeling in their ad spend.
Why Are Earnings Going Down?
YouTubers earn revenue from people viewing ads on videos, and those views are only worth what an advertiser is willing to pay for them.
Fewer advertisers running campaigns means they will pay less for ads due to reduced competition.
The cost of display advertising is determined by how many advertisers are “bidding” on the inventory.
When there’s many advertisers wanting to pay for the same ad space, it creates a bidding war which drives up the cost of ads.
Conversely, when advertisers pause their campaigns and stop bidding on ads, the cost stays low.
When the cost of ads goes down, revenue for the ad publisher (YouTube & its creators) also goes down.
That’s why YouTubers are earning less even if they’re receiving more views on their videos.
YouTubers Say it’s Getting Bad
YouTube creators themselves have confirmed the reported drop in earnings.
A YouTuber who goes by the name Bodil40, who has over 2 million subscribers, says their CPM has dropped 30-50%.
Is anyone else's YouTube CPM going like -30-50% these days because of COVID?
— Bodil40 (@bodil40) April 3, 2020
Other notable YouTubers replied to the above tweet saying the same has happened to them, reporting anywhere from 15% to 60% drops in CPM.
If you do a search for “YouTube CPM” on Twitter you’ll quickly find dozens of video creators who are concerned about their YouTube earnings.
Here’s a collection of some recent tweets I found:
Youtube CPM Is lower right now than It was during the adpocalypse , crazy times. Advertisers obviously had to pull alot / out of promotion during this tough time.
— PIMPNITE (@PIMPNITEYT) April 13, 2020
Looking at my CPM for this month on youtube… 😬 pic.twitter.com/Fti1X0MMB4
— Thunder (@RealThunder402) April 6, 2020
CPM is so bad on youtube right now I’m convinced I might actually have to start paying them to make videos…
— jay canada (@jaycanada10) April 11, 2020
YouTube CPM since COVID 😑 Anyone else experiencing serious drops in they’re ad rev? pic.twitter.com/O81MlyJecw
— Eric Floberg (@Eric_Floberg) April 13, 2020
Yikes, April's CPM on Youtube is the lowest I've seen it in almost 9 months!
— Repzion (@DDsulzbach) April 7, 2020
Making a Case for Continued Content Creation
At this point, YouTubers may be asking themselves why they should continue to invest their time and resources into making content for little return.
Well, there’s a few benefits that immediately come to mind, provided your circumstances still allow you to create content right now.
Build a larger following
As it stands, more views does not equal more revenue. But it can equal more subscribers.
Creators can use this time to attract new followers and benefit later when advertising rates shift in a positive direction.
Creating content at a time where it’s not as lucrative to do so speaks volumes about your character.
Giving up on your channel during a financial downturn can potentially damage your authenticity in the eyes of your viewers.
What’s going on in the world is likely to be temporary, but peoples’ actions will be remembered long after this is all over.
People need entertainment
With people being stuck in isolation under stay-at-home orders, there is a greater need for new content now more than ever.
Give back to your viewers by creating content that keeps them entertained, informed, or inspired.
Again, this is something that will leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Sources: New York Times, Medium