The future of YouTube children's developers is uncertain as US regulators make it harder to generate advertising revenue from videos and channels targeted at children. One user affected is Samuel Rader.
Samuel Rader quit his job three years ago to work full-time on his YouTube channel "Sam and Nia" with the self-made videos of his family life.
Created by the Texas-based couple - with videos about their Hawaii vacation, their garden pool, and other "Christian Family Life" content - with about 2.68 million subscribers, it has become one of Google's own video services providers, YouTube.
However, the future of "Sam and Nia" and other YouTube developers is now uncertain, as US regulators make it harder to generate advertising revenue from child-directed videos and channels.
"When I heard about it, I got into a slight panic attack," said Rader, whose channel has spent $ 2 million on ads showing in the videos.
"I thought we needed to find a new source of revenue," he added.
YouTube agreed earlier this month to pay a fine of $ 170 million and change how children's data is collected from a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission.
YouTube treats data from people viewing child content on YouTube as coming from children. There will also be no more personalized ads for this content, and no more features such as comments and notifications.
The new rules, which will come into effect in four months, have sparked fears in the YouTube community of creators and "vloggers" like the Raders who live on the ad revenue.
"There is a lot of shock, sadness and fear. For many creators, this is their only source of revenue, "said Melissa Hunter of the Family Video Network, a consulting firm that also runs a group of YouTube channels.
"They are people who produce content in their homes, not big companies. They are small, self-made companies, "she added.
There are still many questions left about how YouTube will define children's content - which is intended for children under the age of 12 - that will then be subject to the new rules.
Rader said he was told that "we are a low-risk channel because our content is not aimed at children."
It is assumed that YouTube has millions of content creators on its network who participate in the advertising revenue of the service. It is estimated that this will be more than $ 10 billion annually, although it is unclear how much of the YouTube content is actually intended for children.
Announcing the new policy, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki acknowledged that "these changes will have a significant business impact on family and child developers who have built wonderful content as well as thriving businesses. We've been trying to give the developers concerned four months to adapt before the changes take effect, "she said.
Wojcicki added that YouTube has "committed to working with them during this transition, providing resources to help them better understand these changes, and at the same time set up a $ 100 million fund," which is thought-provoking dedicated to original children's content ".
Internet giant critics said YouTube had marketed itself as a destination for children and profited from selling advertising to toy makers and others.
FTC chairman Joe Simons said the agreement prevents YouTube and Google from ignoring the existence of children's content on their platform.
Hunter said family content creators could collect between $ 30 and $ 100,000 per month, but "these families will do virtually nothing on January 1," when the new rules come into force.
YouTube and creators may still be able to generate revenue from video ads, as long as they are not based on child data, even though they are far less lucrative.
"Advertisers spend more on traceable, measurable placements," said Nicole Perrin, analyst at research firm eMarketer.
"I am not sure if there is a way to do this for children without limiting the revenue on this page," she said.
Shaun McKnight, whose M-Star Media has set up several popular YouTube channels in Dallas that have attracted millions of subscribers, said he and his wife had already anticipated the changes.
"My wife and I thought it was too risky, so we retired in time," he said.
Sources: Bangkok Post, thailandtip