Since its founding in 2005, YouTube has become a video behemoth, with its viewers watching over a billion hours of content per day. That growth hasn't come without some awkward stages, including the recentand questions about "bad actors."
Pushback from advertisers concerned about associating their brands with questionable material prompted YouTube to overhaul its system for deciding how and where to run advertisements. Owned by Google (GOOG), the service last week said it will now run ads only on channels with at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time during the past year, instead of the previous threshold of 10,000 total views.
The new yardstick is more difficult to achieve, said Taylor Liff, a musician who posts YouTube videos under his stage name, Taylor Scott. While he has more than 1,000 subscribers, his view time for the past year is about half of what YouTube now requires, which would require him to invest a lot more time in his channel to make it payoff financially.
"I don't think they are very interested in small fries like me at all," Liff said. "To get there, it would mean putting out a lot more content and focusing a lot more on what's relevant currently to get people to watch it and trying to retain that audience."
He added, "I'm trying to put out whatever song I'm interested in singing."
Other content creators are echoing Liff's complaints, saying the changes are disheartening. Others say it could push YouTubers to create "clickbait" content, designed merely to grab viewers and boost their numbers, while others worry it will hurt disenfranchised people, who may be less likely to gain big fan bases.
YouTube noted that the changes "are designed to curb bad actors, stabilize creator revenue and provide greater assurances to advertisers around where their ads are placed," according to a statement emailed to CBS MoneyWatch. It added that it offers resources to help content creators, such as the Creator Academy, which provides tutorials on how to build a channel and hone content strategies.
The video network added that 99 percent of existing creators affected by the new policy earned less than $100 per year, which is the threshold for receiving revenue payouts from the video service.
That's the case for Liff, who said he had earned only about $40 from his YouTube channel, although he hadn't received a payout because the amount was below the site's earnings threshold. Nevertheless, Liff said the new standards are pushing him to rethink his commitment to YouTube.
"I don't know when I could hit that now," he said. "I'm not sure when I'll get the monetization back. Will this $40 disappear into abyss?"
Meanwhile, YouTube said the policy change will help give it the time to review content, ensuring that it's appropriate for advertisers. The video service was embroiled in controversy earlier this month after one of its popular stars, Logan Paul,.
"This is the first time really in the history of media that we've had such incredible diversity of interests, of passions, being able to be reflected. When we go and watch YouTube, we have communities that form around all kinds of different things," Kevin Allocca, YouTube's head of culture and trends, told "CBS This Morning" earlier this month.
The risk, however, is the policy changes could push up-and-coming content creators onto other platforms, or simply dissuade them from investing time and effort into honing their videos. In the meantime, YouTubers are banding together, promising to follow each other's channels, in an effort to meet the service's limits.
Liff noted: "It'll be a lot harder to have the same sort of growth I saw over the last year, because I won't be able to monetize this year."