Some thoughts in the long-term aftermath of the YouTube Adpocalypse
A lot of things have been changing since the first wave of the "Adpocalypse" happened in 2017. YouTube has progressively been getting more censored, less profitable, and more mainstream (in a bad way).
Pre-Adpocalpyse, channels with a few million subscribers or even once you were in the multiple 100ks were making good money. And having a million subscribers made you a big creator. With the adpocalypse, the amount of viewers you need to to make decent money is dramatically higher. More and more people have millions of subscribers, and it just isn't cutting it anymore.
For example let's look at Phil Lester’s socialblade.
As you can see, he has 4 million subscribers, but is subscriber rank 4,245th. It estimates him at making max 40k a year in adsense. This is someone who has never had a video demonetized (a rare feat). The numbers here are ridiculous.
https://www.insider.com/david-dobrik-reveals-massive-loss-in-youtube-earnings-2019-11 This is an interview with David Dobrik, who at the time had 14.5 million subscribers. In it "Dobrik told Men's Health his videos used to fetch just over $275,000 a month in revenue, whereas he most recently earned under $2,000, despite bringing in three times as many views.
As you can see, the bar at which youtube makes you rich (or even decent money!) has gotten dramatically higher. At this point it's simply untrue to say that youtubers are rich. As far as I can tell, the only youtubers who are rich currently are the ones with tens of millions of subscribers and multiple millions of views per month, and the people that made their money before the adpocalypse.
And fame too, seems to be harder to achieve now. The names of youtubers with a few million subs pre-adpocalypse were known to many. Now, most of the names of the top channels are unrecognizable.
But, what about smaller creators? Youtube seems to have totally abandoned them. They no longer get paid virtually any money or promoted in the algorithm.
Ah, yes, the algorithm. Another major factor in the transformation of youtube. The current algorithm only promotes creators who make lots of content, on a frequent and consistent basis. Even uploading once a week puts someone on the edge of the algorithm forgetting they exist. (And since no one is getting any money anymore, more people have to have outside jobs and thus don't have time to make enough content that the algorithm gives a shit about them!)
All this has led to a number of changes in the content itself. It's no longer as high quality, because in order to make money, a creator has to prioritize quantity over quality. Now the ads are built into the videos themselves- creators have had to resort to getting independent deals with companies and integrating ads into their videos if they want to actually make money. This ad integration has made youtubers seem less genuine and turns off a lot of viewers as it can look like creators are sell-outs. Overall, content is more sanitized and less creative.
In short, I think the only reason that youtube still has a massive audience and millions of creators is that there isn't a major competitor on the market. Youtube still fills a niche that no one else does. I think that if another site popped up, youtube would see a max-exodus of creators. The genuinity and pure creativity that youtube built its platform on is gone. Start up companies, take note!
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Stunning True-Life Tales of Science Fiction #1 - Robots Ruined the Internet
Based on actual events.
Illustrations composed with stock images from public domain sources Planet Comics #64, Eerie #11, This Magazine is Haunted #17 & #18, Space Comics #56
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Me: *flags a porn bot and holds it up to the tumblr algorithm* okay this is a porn bot. See the badly staged boobs and breasts, plus the suspicion pleas to contact for more writer by a text parser?
Algorithm: Yes! Stop all the porn bots!
Me: Good Algorithm! Okay go bring me back a porn bot!
Algorithm: *comes back with a post about the most efficient way to pack a suitcase* Porn! I am a good Algorithm!
Me: No bad Algorithm! Not a porn bot!
Algorithm: You want more? I get! *catches everything that’s NOT a porn bot*
Me: and this is why I stopped bothering to flag things.
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Steam's "you might also like this other game" system is basically useless, because all tags are treated equally. You might get recommendations for games tagged "Puzzle-Platformer" or "Bullet Hell" (both specific gameplay genres), or "Atmospheric" or "Memes" (both of which tell you what kind of aesthetics/tone to expect); but on the other hand, you might get recommendations for games tagged "Indie" (which is more of a publishing paradigm which says nothing about the game itself), "Adventure" (which has everything from hidden-object and point-and-click weird-puzzle-shit games to Metroidvanias).
The Algorithm is like "Nier: Automata, a 3D open-world post-apocalyptic hack-and-slash action-RPG with a sci-fi plot about fighting robots, is similar to Hidden Star in Four Seasons, a 2D arcade-style bullet hell shmup with a goofy fantasy story about trying to find the cause of the seasons getting thrown out of whack, because they're both tagged 'Female Protagonist', 'Great Soundtrack', 'Singleplayer', and 'Anime'."
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The terrible power of YouTube Algorithm
I’m sure there’s been more in-depth studies / commentary on this, but here’s my personal experience:
I’m not a “youtuber”. I upload a few videos here and there, mostly my music production attempts, or drone footage, both of which have 3-10 views per video, and I’m OK with that.
Recently, I uploaded two videos and got tens of thousands of views with zero effort. Kinda.
The First Video is 2.5 seconds long, and is just a moderately famous youtube video essayist / pop culture commentator saying a funny thing, and then me adding a funny video description. I got a few big things going on for me:
1. it’s short - people see it and are more likely to click it
2. it’s a shitpost - again, people can see it from a distance
3. it’s someone popular, which is clearly visible from the thumbnail, if you know the person
4. it’s about a popular franchise, which has a few million fans (or former fans)
The Second Video is me spending 6 hours cutting and editing footage from the same youtuber into a 2 minute chaotic, random, semi-funny montage. I found it hilarious and I’m somewhat “proud” of it, as much as you can be proud of a shitpost with 100% of the content ripped of from another creator.
Anyway, at this moment, the first video has over 51000 views, the second about 1800. The views, at first, were about 100-200 a day for the 1st, and about 10 for the latter.
When The Author noticed the first video, the views bumped to 300-550 a day. Some were from her Tumblr, but most of them were still from The YouTube Algorithm. Then it started dying down, and then it jumped up to 5000-6000 views a day. (Currently it’s going down again to 1k-2k, as expected.)
The second video, thanks to my lack of tact, got sent to The Author right away, which got me about 300-400 views instantly, and then again about 100-200 a day from a mix of youtube’s recommendations and other links.
The “effortless” 2-second video had a click-through rate 5 ~ 28%. Five to twenty-eight percent. This is without me doing anything - not touching the thumbnail or title. Depending on who, when and where youtube showed it to, about 5%, or about 28% of people clicked the thumbnail and watched the video. 250′000 people were shown the thumbnail. 94.8% of all views are from that.
The “effortful” 2-minute video has a click-through rate from 3.7% to 10.1%. Here I tried fussing with the title like every other day, and maybe it had some effect, but it’s hard to say with “only” 5200 impressions; only about 270 of them came from youtube’s recommendations, and 2/3 of all views were from “external” source, mostly Twitter (again, The Author actually posted the link).
Anyway, all this is to say that it’s utterly demotivating that someone like sub.media spends tens of hours making a documentary and get 700 views, creators spend dozens and hundreds of hours hand-crafting videos about topics they care about, but without a marketing budget, and they’re utterly at the mercy of 1. youtube 2. getting viral 3. favors from people with a platform 4. obsessively tuning the title/thumbnail 5. twisting their spine to make their content more clickbaity, more popular, more meme-friendly, more controversial yet agreeable 6. keeping producing until they gain enough momentum that the older videos will get more views (and maybe more exposure by youtube, again)
I always knew it’s bad, but seeing more closely how what we see is controlled by faceless corpos and even more faceless, spineless algorithms... it’s bleak.
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I think YouTube just decided that Raggedy Ann & Andy is gonna be the next revitalized fandom, so I’m just here to warn y’all.
I do hope I’m not yammering my mouth to a crowd that’s already suffocating under piles of cotton, rags, and paper covered in sketches of rag-sonas.
Hate YouTube executives or even the platform itself, but know this; The Algorithm is a purely chaotic-neutral entity, and its word is final. If The Algorithm says everybody’s recommendation feed will have Raggedy Andy Appreciation Compilations, then the future has already been paved towards the path of Rag Dollies, Candy Hearts, and Paper Flowers.
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Not sure if I explained that well. I was not saying that social media is like a cult, I was saying that there are parallels between the underlying social dynamics. It's been shown that algorithms on many social media websites prioritize showing users posts which are more likely to be considered controversial, for instance. By keeping users engaged, the platform makes more money from ads, sponsored posts, user data, etc. And yes, that's not a healthy way to engage with social media, but it's 1/2
2/2 something which is encouraged by the platform itself, and which many people can fall into without realizing as a result. It's something that people may find difficult to avoid if they don't realize it's happening in the first place, which can be difficult because an algorithm is not something you can just look at.
IDK anything about that. You're gonna have to cite some sources that the algorithms are doing this if you want me to believe that theory.
In my experience, the algorithms feed you content based on what you teach them you're most likely to click on. Therefore, if you're the sort of person who often clicks on "controversial" posts, then you'll be fed controversial content. However if you're the sort of person who clicks more often on cute animals, then you'll be fed cute animals content.
The algorithms used by social media aren't especially sinister. They're not reading your mind, or making you do anything you don't already do. But they do give you access to a larger "world", so if you're looking up cute animals, you're more likely to stumble across a controversial post written by someone like PETA and if you're not using critical thinking skills, you might begin to look up more, similarly controversial posts.
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How interesting: my latest wave of pornbots is all-male porn.
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easily the worst thing abt like tiktok #activism to me is u have to put ur face to all ur takes so like not that the internet was good for education and political consciousness BEFORE but the fact your opinions gain more validity if u have the kind of polished appearance that signals wealth as well as implicit bias against race, gender, disability etc now being inescapable... werk
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Well, that was a soothing break. Are you ready for another (nine and a half minute long) track from The Algorithm? I sure the fuck am! :))))))))))
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YouTube’s been doing this thing lately where their ad algorithm tries to time automatically inserted ad breaks to fall on black frames in the video, on the theory that a pure black frame is likely to form part of a transition between scenes, and the ad is thus less likely to cut a line of dialogue in half or whatever.
Unfortunately, the algorithm cannot distinguish between black frames that form part of scene transitions and black frames inserted for other dramatic purposes, with the result that I’ve watched videos whose ad breaks are perfectly timed to match, among other things:
Entering a dark room
The trigger of a gun being pulled
The beat between the setup and the punchline of a visual pun
A PoV shot in which the viewpoint character blinks
The protagonist getting punched in the face
If their goal was to make the timing of automatically inserted ad breaks feel less random, well, they succeeded!
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Dev of a popular indie game: (casually reveals something during a stream of them coding)
Content Creators desperately trying to appease the algorithm: NEW GAMECHANGING LORE!! UNDERFUNKIN US CHAPTER 7 LEAKS!!! !!!NEW BOSS???!?!
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My first time seeing the tumblr warning about sensitive content in months of prono bots and it's for a blog dedicated to chubby cartoon characters. Probably because the author chose to mark their blog nsfw just in case anyone might be upset. Tumblr dot com is a trip 😂😭🤔
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We have many ways of determining, and testing, “what is real.” Or, more fully, “what is reality.” We use these, mostly unconscious, tests to shape our world view. Which in turn shapes who we are being and even how we experience life, leading to our behaviours and reactions.
One of these tests, and perhaps one of the most hidden of them all, is the one of agreement reality.
As social creatures, we are very much in tune with what’s being expressed around us by our current groups, and how people respond to what we profess and do. Get acceptance and agreement, and that reinforces our reality. Find dissonance or disagreement, and it creates impetus to review, re-evaluate, and shift. So the more agreement we get to our reality and how we express it, the more real it becomes.
This is why the common concept of an echo chamber is such an insidious thing. The circular yes-ing and concurring between those within creates a massive agreement reality that can become all encompassing, especially given enough time.
And then… enter the internet. One of the wonders of the ‘net is that we can find and connect with all sorts of people of all stripes from all over, almost all to easily. The problem and pitfall of the ‘net is that we can find and connect with all sorts of people of all stripes from all over, and in this case, it really is all to easy. Anyone who has a particular view (and reality) can find at least a few more who share that view. Therefore incomplete, inaccurate, harmful, malice driven, and similar views can easily gain agreement reality traction.
Worse, this is further aided by the underlying website algorithms that are designed solely to drive us towards that which it thinks we will engage with.* It does not know, nor care, whether what it’s bringing together is bountiful or baneful. It just sends everyone that way.** Which means those with the thinnest of realities can be brought together to form an agreement reality.
There isn’t really a conclusion here; this is more of a jumping off point. To becoming aware, and mindful, about this reality test both in ourselves and in others. To exploring it as lens on our disunity and of our isolation. And as a foundation a of how we engage, of what we press for, and of how we can break cycles.
* This is even to the level that a search engine will, even if you visit it in private mode so you are a blank slate, use your IP address to pre-determine what it thinks you will want to see. It is pre-shaping the agreement reality for you….
** And, worse, in the interest of engagement (and therefore our revenue-generating attention) it increases the intensity of the content it is directing towards.
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I think of myself as a creative, but my stuff has never been popular on social media. Old discourse posts i made, however, still get notes--i feel like thats a problem? I'd much rather my discourse posts get ignored and my art/games/comics get attention on here or elsewhere. Thats not what the internet is built for, though
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Whether or not it's programmed directly into the algorithm isn't the point. The end result is effectively the same, and a bad one. Also, I sent a couple links in your submit. Did tumblr eat them?
It's very much the point.
Creating an algorithm which shows you content based on the content you consume and therefore seem to like best is very different than creating an algorithm which shows you divisive content because someone thinks polarised opinions create more engagement.
In the first case, the end result is not effectively the same. It's ONLY the same if you are the sort of person who likes divisive content and, by continuously accessing divisive content, teaches the algorithm to serve you more of the same type of content.
That's a you problem.
An algorithm being deliberately written to serve you divisive content regardless of your interaction or interest is an entirely different moral quandary.
I myself love some drama. However, when my feeds turn into a cesspool of bigotry, I don't then turn around and say "oh it's the algorithm's fault". It's not the algorithm's fault, it's my fault for deliberately looking up posts by people who hate people like me.
I'm sorry but I'm not going to agree that social media is uniquely evil just because you don't want to take responsibility for your own actions.
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Good morning everyone.
So last night ALL of my photos were taken down from tumblr's #s, my gif wouldn't post and it wouldn't even show up on my own dashboard, and the day before 2/3 photos were also shadowbanned. The algorithm is hating me again.
I'm gonna take a breather from posting and see if that helps me.
I'm gonna start promoting and posting content on reddit and will put the links here.
I'm going to start my OF next week.
If you want the new photos of me, reblog your favorite photo and I'll send you one as a thank you.
Also if you want me to submit photos to you to post on your page, dm me please.
Thank you so much... I feel really defeated🥺
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New song of the week! Back with more stuff from The Algorithm. I think this is my favorite from this particular album.
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