Tech

YouTube CEO implores video creators to take some time off

Key Points
  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki posted a year-end letter in which she addresses YouTuber's burnout dilemma.
  • Wojcicki said company data shows creators still have a strong audience if they leave.
  • The comments come after a turbulent year where creators have vented frustrations on the company and its chief.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube speaking at #VidCon, July 23, 2015.
Harriet Taylor | CNBC

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says in 2019, she's been hearing more about creators feeling the need to constantly produce content, resulting in burnout. So much so, that she asked her product teams to pull some data.

They found out that creators can, in fact, take a break and their viewership won't suffer.

"I've heard some creators say they feel like they can't take a break from filming because they're concerned their channel will suffer," Wojcicki said in a blog post Thursday. "We want to encourage you to take care of yourself and invest in recovery."

The chief's comments come as Google-owned YouTube has endured several conflicts with creators this year, with some complaining about harassment and hate speech, and others arguing that the platform's rules about removing advertisements — a process called "demonetization" — are random and poorly explained. Some content creators, who count on ads as their main source of revenue, were enraged in September after some received emails suggesting they would lose their verification status on YouTube. Wojcicki has had to make multiple public apologies as a result.

Wojcicki said she asked the product team at YouTube to look into the data around creators taking breaks from the platform.

"Across millions of channels and hundreds of different time frames for breaks, the same thing was true: On average, channels had more views when they returned than they had right before they left," she wrote. "If you need to take some time off, your fans will understand. After all, they tune into your channel because of you."

The letter also teased policy updates the company expects in 2020, some of which crack down on misinformation and violence, while others could potentially open the door for more.

  • The company is running experiments for pairing ads with "edgy" content. "We're working to identify advertisers who are interested in edgier content, like a marketer looking to promote an R-rated movie, so we can match them with creators whose content fits their ads," she wrote.
  • A new policy will have fewer restrictions for violence in gaming, but Wojcicki promises it will keep a "high bar" to against real-world violence. "For gaming creators, we've heard loud and clear that our policies need to differentiate between real-world violence and gaming violence," she noted. "We have a policy update coming soon that will do just that."
  • The company says it is in the process of updating its harassment policy guidelines that will be finalized soon, however but added no other details.
  • Starting in January, the platform will remove comments and personalized ads for kids' content, which was previously announced as a result of its September settlement with the FTC over alleged violations of an online children's protection law, COPPA.

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