The Dark Side of YouTube

May 23 2018

The Dark Side of YouTube

Written by Aj Aviado

It was just a few days ago that I probably (but most definitely) over glorified the use of YouTube to boost our business or brand. But like what I always say as a very mild nihilist: not everything lasts forever. So today we’ll be taking a look at the dark side of YouTube.


I’m not talking about those weird videos that somehow get through and don’t get taken down. And, trust me, if I had my own blog, I would write about that. I am however talking about the side of YouTube that, if you’re not too careful, could potentially destroy your career. Although this platform is one of Google’s spawn, the way YouTube works is far different from how Google works, unfortunately.


In general, if Google works and decides like, say, a really smart and intuitive A.I., YouTube acts like it still has gears and springs in it.


Let me explain this further…


In Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there is a general rule that if you are honestly sharing information and your audience genuinely enjoys your content, you already have the chance to get that coveted golden ticket up the rankings of the gates of SERPS.  In YouTube, it still has remnants of that, but there’s something evil lurking beneath it all. The dreaded snake called Copyright.


Not going to mention any famous YouTubers this time, because I can set my channel as an example. Last year, me and my Mum went to Japan and spent a whole week there. And as an aspiring and frustrated vlogger, I thought it might be cool to film our trip and use some of my favourite songs together with some of the songs I wrote for my band as a background. Sounds, cinematic, right?


The trip was fun and the content was actually fun. I was also excited to pepper these episodes with good background music like I initially planned. And, lo and behold, a lot of my videos got copyrighted. One of them was banned in multiple states.




As a content creator, that was pretty disheartening. You get so excited and edit your videos one by one for hours, and then you wait for it to get uploaded for hours, only for them to be taken down or be claimed by someone else. Even though, I haven’t really had the chance to earn money on the platform, having your content get stepped down like that is already sad.

Imagine the damage that can do to say, a business or a brand.


To understand this better, you have to first know that this happens because YouTube follows rigid rules. YouTube uses the copyright strike as a policing practice so they can manage copyright infringement. It is, in a way, a good thing to have. If, for example, you’re an artist and some random YouTuber decides to use one of your songs. You can claim that video so you can be the one that makes money out of it. But what about the innocent ones that only want your song to be in a scene for 2 minutes? Sorry, but you also get the lightning strike.


So, if you’re trying to use this platform to promote or enhance your business, you have to readapt your SEO rules to it. Until YouTube figures out how to really run their company together, we, who only want to create and share content (and use it for business promotions), will need to adjust for them.


Time for a little bit of thought experiments.


Say, you are, again, planning to tap into YouTube to boost your insurance company. Let us use this very famous ad again:



Now let’s imagine that on the planning stage, you and your team are imagining hearing certain dramatic Celine Dion-esque types of background music on that ad. That’s really cool but, unless you and your company has an agreement with the artist and his or her label, using their songs could get you in a lot of unwanted trouble. Even though YouTube actually has laws for fair use of content, it’s better to just utilize the copyright free audio library that YouTube has. Yeah it’s not Celine Dion, but you won’t get banned in multiple countries.


One aspect of trying to advertise insurance is the fact that you need to prove a point where, if people get into trouble because the overall health is at risk, you’ll need all the help you can get from having yourself insured. And to do that on an ad, you may want to show some horrible accident or something.


If this was on a movie, lots of gore, shock, and violence would truly be awesome. But this is YouTube and you have a company to run and protect, so try to avoid all the violent stuff.

Because of a not so recent Vlogger incident, YouTube became a bit tougher when it comes to sensitive contents. So don’t try too hard to be creative on your video ads, just stick to your topic and you’ll do fine.


For a platform, that on the surface encourages you to be creative, YouTube doesn’t really give you a lot of headroom to actually be creative. And I guess it’s not really their fault. Like in the world of search, YouTube has a lot of Black-Hat-like creators as well – trying their best to manipulate views and gain the most out of the platform. The only other problem is that the way YouTube responds to these threats is a bit too broad, to the point that it also affects the ones that don’t have a hidden agenda to gain more views and more money.

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