If you have any vested interest in YouTube advertising or publishing through YouTube, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the enormous advertiser boycott hitting the platform, lovingly dubbed “The Adpocalypse.” Over 250 major brands, such as Pepsi, Walmart, General Motors, and more have joined an advertising ban on YouTube, primarily over concerns that their ads have appeared in-line with videos that have presented hateful, offensive or harassing content. Is this the end of monetizing videos through YouTube? Is this the meltdown of the largest video platform on the planet? Are we doomed to return to the days of sitcom re-runs and Blockbuster? Should we all run for the hills? How do you make a YouTube channel profitable?

YouTube is not a high priority topic at the SEA, but this recent turn of events with YouTube brings up an interesting insight into the biosphere of the online world that spills over into the search engine side of things. Gaining a little bit of understanding of the lifeforms and lifecycles involved will help us in the SEO world.


In every ecosystem, there are a variety of lifeforms that help keep that ecosystem in balance. In this story, there are three primary groups: Consumers, Advertisers, and Creators.

Consumers are the reason everybody shows up in the first place. Without Consumers, both the Advertisers and the Creators starve. Consumers are the ones who ultimately feed (aka finance) the Advertisers and the Creators. Consumers are the ones who come to see the content from the Creators and happen to purchase some of the items sold by Advertisers. The Consumer’s desire is for content: entertainment, education or inspiration. They bring their money.

Advertisers are a major part of the financial cycle of the ecosystem. Consumers are constantly surrounded by Advertisers and have become rather immune to their presence and message, but interact with well placed, properly messaged ads that are relevant to their own needs, wants, and desires.  Advertisers work toward placing the right message in front of the right Consumer at the right time, enough times that the Consumer will purchase their wares. However, Consumers don’t tune into any content delivery platform (such as YouTube) just to see Advertisements. Consumers come for the content provided by the Creators. Advertisers depend on the Creators to draw the Consumers into the ecosystem and help the Creators by sharing profits with them. The more Advertisers spend in the ecosystem, the more revenue there is to promote YouTube channels and support Creators. The Advertiser desires to make a sale. They bring valuable products and services to Consumers and finances to Creators.

Creators are the glue that holds the ecosystem of YouTube together. Without funny cats, epic fails, how-tos, and inspiration stories, Advertisers would be talking to an empty room. Consumers come for content, not advertisements. Advertisers want to connect with Consumers. Creators provide content for the Consumers, whether it’s entertainment, education, or inspiration. vThe Creators come for two reasons: to communicate their message–their content, and to be compensated for their contribution to the ecosystem. Advertisers are glad to share their profits with the Creators–as long as the content aligns with the Advertisers values. Creators desire an audience and income. They bring content and a draw for Consumers.

The Circle of Life

Each of the players in the YouTube ecosystem brings something to give and asks for something in return. So long as there are enough Consumers, Advertisers, and Creators, there is balance in the system.  Each gives as they want and each receives what they need. However, when one of those groups gets out of balance, the whole ecosystem becomes unbalanced. In the case of “The Adpocalypse”, many major Advertisers have exited the ecosystem. Their reasoning is that they don’t want their marketing messages to be placed alongside content that will reflect poorly on them. The YouTube system has not developed a quality control check to ensure that Creator content is “brand safe” for Advertisers. Pepsi doesn’t want the Consumer to think, “This hateful, abusive content is brought to you by Pepsi.”  As a result, many Creators on YouTube are experiencing a major loss of revenue returning from their contribution of content, because less Advertiser money flowing affects the whole ecosystem. Given enough time on this path, you would see the contribution of Creators dropping off, and then Consumers would go away. Effectively, this would be the death of the YouTube ecosystem.

Rest assured. We won’t be watching reruns of Happy Days, Alf or Friends anytime soon (unless that’s your thing). YouTube is taking corrective action to help Advertisers have more assurances that their brands are safe when they promote YouTube videos, all maximizing the value given to Consumer, which then starts the Circle of Life all over again.

The Moral of the Story: How to Grow YouTube Channels

The purpose of sharing this story is to help you understand that operating on the Web is a balance of giving and receiving. If you come to do business on the web, it is essential to realize that there is a certain way of life here. In reality, it is not much different than doing business face to face. To have a successful business you bring a product of value to the marketplace and engage in meaningful dialog about that product. If there is a good matchup, the consumer exchanges their money for your product. Sometimes you have others helping deliver your message, but in the end, there’s always an exchange of value for value. YouTube, Google, and all the other search engines operate by this same standard. Google provides value in the form of information and is compensated for their contribution to the Web through advertising revenues.

YouTube, Google, and all the other search engines operate by this same standard. Google provides value in the form of information and is compensated for their contribution to the Web through advertising revenues.  To be a healthy part of that ecosystem, your efforts as an SEO should contribute value to your audience, and to Google. Do that, and your work will be rewarded.

If you’re looking for more information on creating optimized content on YouTube, SEA offers a course on YouTube-specific SEO.