YouTube: Culture, Celebrities, and Advertising

By Miranda Lieberman

YouTube as a New Form of Media

  • YouTube has become so successful because of the agency it gives its users and content creators
  • Being a “YouTuber” can now be considered a full time career because of ad revenue
  • There are so many different types of YouTube content that it has become an alternative to television
  • Similar to memes, mutual love of a creator allows for unique social interactions only possible to fans who are “in the know”

YouTube “Celebrities”

  • YouTubers have become a celebrity in their own right
  • Depending on they type of content a creator makes, some YouTubers earn thousands of dollars
    • Occasionally YouTube acts as a springboard for big creators to go mainstream
    • ex. Fred, MirandaSings, Troye Sivan,  Justin Bieber, Todrick Hall, The Annoying Orange
  • YouTube Rewind is their way of showing off their big names

Why Aren’t YouTubers Treated Like Traditional Celebrities?

  • YouTube Rewind is a perfect example of how YouTube culture blends mainstream trends with YouTube original content
    • Showing off their own celebrities along with mainstream ones to emphasize their relevance to pop culture
    • You will not recognize every reference in each year’s YouTube Rewind
    • YouTube culture makes you feel in on the joke along with your favorite creators
  • Despite this, YouTube does not treat their content creators equally
  • This is reflected in how certain YouTube channels are disproportionately policed over their content

Celebrity Culture Benefiting Big YouTubers

  • Being deemed “advertiser friendly” is key to rising up on YouTube, and this dramatically restricts content that some YouTubers put out
    • Alternatively, major creators who slip up often go unnoticed by YouTube until the public calls them out, revealing blatant favoritism
  • Channels who prove their content is consistent, popular, and mostly advertiser friendly will be promoted by YouTube and put on a Google Preferred list

Monetization of Videos

  • YouTube began monetizing its videos in 2008 to incentivize creators to keep creating content and grow the website
  • This allowed YouTubers who were growing in popularity to think of YouTube as a career
  • Along with monetizing videos, YouTubers began gaining enough notoriety that brands took notice and began offering sponsorships

Rise of Sponsorships and Discount Codes

  • Usually associated with the beauty community, sponsored videos and discount codes have now become associated with YouTubers who have “sold out”
  • Seen as inauthentic and money grabbing regardless of whether the opinion being expressed is genuine or not
  • Unfortunately now sponsorships are necessary for smaller channels to survive because of the next big topic

The Adpocalypse

Demonetization as a Form of Censorship?

  • Typically demonetization affects channels like create controversial content the most
  • Algorithm is not good at determining real vs. fake gore, exploitation of tragedies vs. news regarding tragedies, etc.

Inconsistent Enforcement of Policies

  • YouTubers like Rob Dyke, Mykie of Glam and Gore, and Philip DeFranco who are disproportionately affected by demonetization often rely on sponsorships when their videos are dinged
  • Already successful YouTubers can get away with more since their videos are guaranteed to garner a large amount of views
  • Subscriber count and views have become central to success on YouTube if small YouTubers have any hope of their videos being favored by YouTube’s algorithm
  • Advertising money now controls the content we know and love
YouTube Rewind is a yearly roundup of the latest trends, songs, popular YouTubers, and celebrities.