How to Properly Monetize YouTube Videos

Content creation isn’t everything — you need to understand how best to present your videos on YouTube so they can be monetized without any problems. This eCommerce University lesson will explain the various steps you need to take to prevent mistakes with your videos that could lead to issues for your YouTube account.

(If you need to know more about the types of content you can monetize, what advertisers want to see, or how to build your channel, that information can be found in the previous lessons of this course, where we go into those topics in depth.)

How you upload and present your videos to the YouTube community is almost as important as the quality of the videos themselves. Of course, the strength of your content is vital, but the presentation is what helps your videos get found by viewers who are interested in what you have to show them!


Choosing the Right YouTube Thumbnail

When videos show up in search results, channel indexes, and recommendations, the thumbnail is what viewers see that can catch their interest enough to click. When choosing a thumbnail for your videos, ensure that you pick something that accurately represents what the viewer will see.

YouTube has guidelines against misleading thumbnails, especially if your video contains anything that could be considered controversial according to their content policies. Your thumbnails themselves are taken into account when advertisers evaluate your videos, so never create suggestive or shocking thumbnails to try to earn views.

We’re not saying you can’t be creative with thumbnails, but always keep accuracy in mind while you make them. This doesn’t just help with ad placement, it’s also good for increasing your views and subscribers. Some YouTube creators have gone overboard when trying to make interesting, must-click thumbnails, and received viewer backlash over “clickbait,” even by long-term fans.


Best Practices for Metadata for YouTube Videos

Metadata includes video titles, descriptions, and tags. Many advertisers choose to show their ads on videos that use certain keywords in their metadata, and they can also opt to prevent their ads from appearing based on keywords as well.

To create the maximum opportunity for advertising on your videos, always use accurate metadata. Never tag videos with unrelated tags to try to make them rank in more searches, and don’t add extra tags to the video title or description — YouTube recognizes these tactics as “tag stuffing” and will actively penalize you for it.

Be mindful of your wording. In the previous lesson, we talked about how context matters for your video content, but metadata is often seen by advertisers with no context attached. They may opt out of your videos simply because of the inclusion of a few words or phrases they consider controversial, even if the context would show you were using them in an inoffensive way. There’s nothing wrong with comedic, ironic, or satirical YouTube channels, and in fact some are very popular, but remember how your words can be misinterpreted by the automated system that simply compares keywords and phrases devoid of context. Write your titles and descriptions with this in mind.


Checking Your Monetization Status

When you upload videos, you can choose whether or not to monetize them so you can mix ad-friendly and ad-unfriendly content on your channel without risking your status as a YouTube Partner. When you upload a video you intend to monetize, you’ll need to confirm that the video follows YouTube’s guidelines for ad-friendliness. Each video will then be reviewed by YouTube’s automated systems.

You can check monetization status by looking at your list of uploads. Videos with potential problems are denoted with a symbol.

Videos That Can’t Be Monetized

A slashed-out dollar sign means a video cannot be monetized at all. YouTube may have flagged it as containing inappropriate content for advertisers, or it may have triggered a third-party copyright claim. If your video breaks the ad-friendliness policies, your best course of action is to demonetize it to help avoid penalties while you decide whether to leave it up or to edit and replace it.

Copyright claims, on the other hand, are related to recognizable music or other media playing in your video. The copyright holder will own monetization rights to your video since you’re using their material. However, copyright claims are generated by automated systems that compare recordings to copyrighted material in their database, so they occasionally pick up on surprising things. For example, very light background noise from a neighbor’s radio can trigger a copyright claim, as can any musical series of sounds if it’s similar enough to identified content. YouTube provides a means to dispute copyright claims (and information about how monetization works during the dispute process) at their copyright claims support page.

Videos Not Suitable for Most Advertisers

A yellow dollar sign next to a video means it’s been designated as not suitable for most advertisers. Ads may appear rarely or not at all, as most brands will not allow their advertising to be shown. Videos get marked as not suitable due to the inclusion of content that isn’t advertiser-friendly (without outwardly breaking policies).

Like most other parts of YouTube monetization, suitability is determined by an automated system and false positives occasionally happen. You can appeal your videos’ status as not suitable if you think the label was applied in error. However, before you appeal, take a closer look at your video and try to see whether you may have unknowingly created ad-unfriendly content. It can happen — for example, many content creators slip up and use profanity, forgetting to keep it clean during filming, and then don’t realize how much they used it until the video is marked as not suitable.

If you’re mindful of your content while you film, and make sure you edit well, you’re not likely to run into surprise issues with your videos’ friendliness to advertisers.

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