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YouTube adds more details, and restrictions, around which videos can be monetized

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More guidance for video creators and three new types of ad-unfriendly content

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YouTube is taking new steps today to get a handle on content that might offend advertisers or, conversely, prevent a YouTube creator from monetizing their videos. Several major brands left the platform’s ad program recently to avoid being linked with hateful and offensive videos. And many creators were upset when videos they saw as benign started to be de-monetized.

YouTube has promised to give advertisers greater control over where their ads appear and to give creators a better sense of what they need to avoid if they want their videos to make money. Today the video service is expanding its creator guidelines on what constitutes an “ad-friendly” video, offering up more details about dos and don’ts, and, importantly, adding three new categories of videos that won’t be eligible for advertising.

YouTube is trying to walk a careful line with these new guidelines. The company needs to give brands more assurance that their ads won’t be placed before objectionable content, while also minimizing any negative reaction from popular creators who depend on ad revenue. It’s a necessary dance as YouTube tries to balance the freewheeling nature of creation with all the ad money flowing through its business.

The new guidelines, according to YouTube VP of product management Ariel Bardin, “take a tougher stance” on:

Hateful content: Content that promotes discrimination or disparages or humiliates an individual or group of people on the basis of the individual’s or group’s race, ethnicity, or ethnic origin, nationality, religion, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristic associated with systematic discrimination or marginalization.

Inappropriate use of family entertainment characters: Content that depicts family entertainment characters engaged in violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, even if done for comedic or satirical purposes.

Incendiary and demeaning content: Content that is gratuitously incendiary, inflammatory, or demeaning. For example, video content that uses gratuitously disrespectful language that shames or insults an individual or group.

The first and second points are straightforward enough. For one, YouTube is getting much stricter about discriminatory content and making an effort to be transparent about it. The second section also makes clear that YouTube plans to crack down on videos that feature recognizable family entertainment characters in unseemly situations.

That third area, though — “incendiary and demeaning content” — might be the hardest for YouTube to incontestably define for both creators and brands. There’s plenty of room for debate over where the “gratuitous” line falls. To that end, YouTube says it’s working to improve the appeals process for creators who object to having a video marked as “not advertising friendly.”

To be clear, many videos that fall under the above descriptions will still be permitted on YouTube — they just won’t be allowed to receive advertising dollars. “We hope this additional information will provide you with more insight into the types of content that brands have told us they don’t want to advertise against and help you to make more informed content decisions,” said Bardin.