YouTube relaxes controversial topic guidelines to boost ad revenue opportunities

YouTube is updating its Advertiser-Friendly Content guidelines regarding controversial issues.

Under the new best practice recommendations, creators will be able to earn ad revenue on content discussing topics such as:

  • Sexual and domestic abuse.
  • Abortions.
  • Eating disorders.

This means content that addresses these topics without going into graphic detail can now be fully monetized.

Why we care. YouTube is expanding advertising avenues, providing advertisers with more opportunities to showcase their campaigns. However, brands should carefully weigh ad placement decisions, and consider whether they wish to have their products or services promoted alongside content discussing controversial issues – even if it doesn’t go into graphic detail.

Why now? YouTube confirmed the change was prompted by feedback from creator communities claiming that they receive “more yellow icons” than others when their content simply references controversial topics. The platform is hoping the update to its guidelines will enable more communities to discuss controversial topics for educational purposes while maintaining the opportunity to monetize their content.

What else is changing? YouTube is aligning its Advertiser-Friendly Content guidelines on eating disorders with the YouTube community guidelines. Content that focuses on eating disorders and shares triggers will not receive ad revenue, such as:

  • Binge eating
  • Hiding and hoarding
  • Abusing laxatives

However, content that references an eating disorder but does not promote it will be eligible for monteization, such as:

  • Educational
  • Documentary
  • Survivor content

A YouTube spokesperson added: “This change will ensure that this content isn’t incentivised with ads, and that our monetization and community guidelines continue to be in sync.”

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What has YouTube said? Conor Kavanagh, YouTube monetization policy lead, said in a video statement:

  • “We know that covering topics like these can be a helpful resource to users, so we want to ensure that, wherever possible, controversial issues discussed in a non-descriptive and non-graphic way aren’t disincentivized through demonetization.”
  • “We’re also keenly aware that some creator communities feel like they get more yellow icons because they’re uploading content about topics that disproportionately impact them.”
  • “We hope these changes can give all creators more space to discuss these topics with eligibility fo rad revenue.”

Deep dive. Read YouTube’s Advertiser-Friendly Content guidelines in full for more information.

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About the author

Nicola Agius

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book ‘Mastering In-House SEO’.

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