The problem with ads.

May 19, 2021

As you all know, we at Cinnamon, aren’t the biggest fan of ads. I mean...who is? Now obviously there are many benefits to using free platforms such as YouTube, mainly the fact that the user base is so high and content can be accessed without a subscription price. However, as time progresses and ads become more invasive more and more people are realizing the pitfalls of the advertising that takes advantage of content creators' hard work.  

Harming the platform:

You may have heard of the adpocalypse that began around 2016 when an old video of the popular PewDiePie resurfaced in which he used anti-Semitic imagery and language.

In addition to this, a number of cases arose in which YouTube was found to be putting ads in front of videos from terrorist organizations and extremist groups.

Understandably the companies who take part in YouTube’s advertising scheme were not too happy about this. This led to a change in YouTube’s policy which gave advertisers more power and allowed them to pull ads from any content they didn't want to be associated with meaning creators now had to pander to the wants of advertisers or risk their content being demonetized.

The situation only continued to get worse, and in 2017 matters reached a breaking point when Logan Paul uploaded a video featuring the body of a man who had committed suicide in Aokigahara Forest in Japan.

While YouTube never actually removed the video themselves (it was removed by Logan Paul or one of his team members), they instead brought in another new set of guidelines that appeared to harm smaller creators in favor of larger ones.  

While the new guideline harm creators (which we touch on in more detail below), it also harms the platform, killing the creativity and freedom of creators and instead, pushing for content that fits certain polished guidelines resulting in predictable, unimaginative content that looks like it’s mass-produced by one company, or even causing talented creators to move elsewhere.

Harming the creator:

Obviously, these multiple guideline changes impacted creators the most, and this is the issue when monetization is tied so heavily to advertisements.

It is important to us at Cinnamon that all our content creators have complete freedom over their work. But it isn’t just an issue of freedom.

Issues surrounding advertising on web video content have also seen large platforms earning money off the backs of smaller creators' hard work, and we don’t think we are alone in believing this is unfair.

The latest update to YouTube terms of service (mentioned above) has seen the introduction of ads on all content, including that which isn’t a part of its partner program.

Once again, this hurts the smaller creators the most, earning money from their work without them seeing as much of a cent from the hours they have put in.

By not allowing creators to pick and choose whether they want ads on their content is also another cause for concern. Many creators have said how they had originally opted out of any advertising campaigns as they wanted their content to be uninterrupted and hassle-free to viewers.

Having ads in front of your content as a smaller creator who is trying to grow a fan base, may also hinder that growth as many people click off content they are unsure about, especially if they have to sit through two sets of ads. And as with the advertisers not being able to choose what content their ads get put on, creators are unable to decide what ads get put in front of their work leading people to have ads in front of their work that may not align with their own personal values.

In addition to this, more and more ad-blocking technologies, such as tech-giant Apple, allowing ad-blocking on their i-phones and i-pads. In fact, most of Gen Z have some kind of ad-blocker on most of their viewing platforms, and 67% of them report actively avoiding advertisements.

Harming the viewer:

Finally, the constant placement of ads over video content is harming the viewer experience. Not only is annoying to sit through the same ad four times in one video, but viewers are becoming increasingly concerned about the privacy of their data.

Research shows that internet users are becoming increasingly concerned about their data privacy, with nearly all consumers from the US (97%) reporting data privacy as a concern of theirs, and 87% of them feel viewing data privacy as a human right.

The Social Dilemma, a documentary released in 2020 on Netflix, highlighted these concerns yet further, demonstrating that your phone knows you better than you know yourself. If you’re already concerned about your own data privacy and want to scare yourself a little more, we definitely recommend giving it a watch.

Finishing thoughts:

Now I’m sure most, if not all, of this was known to you in some way, you are after all reading a Cinnamon blog post. It is, however, an important reminder that paying creators for their work isn’t something we should celebrate as an achievement, it is something that should be a standard.

With 97.5% of YouTubers not even making enough to reach the US poverty line, and with ad revenue declining by 33% during the pandemic there has never been a better time to make the switch to platforms that reward creators for their hard work, rather than exploiting them.

And to those of you who are already with us, keep up the good work, you are the reason we do what we love to do and work towards creating a world where creators get paid fairly for the hours they spend on their work.

Stay ad-free,

-Anna F-