Creators Say They’ve Cracked YouTube’s Monetization Algorithm

‘Big YouTube news is breaking today and so many creators are going to be fucking pissed’

Chris Stokel-Walker
FFWD
Published in
6 min readOct 29, 2019

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Image: YouTube/Chris Stokel-Walker

YouTube’s creator base has been in informal conflict with the platform that hosts their videos for years. And now, they think they have evidence of just how the platform is screwing them over — by prioritizing family-friendly videos from mainstream outlets over the work platform creators when it comes to monetization.

For the last month, a handful of creators have been probing a vulnerability they believe they’ve uncovered that has inadvertently leaked an internal score YouTube uses to rate their channel and videos: the P-Score.

“Our proprietary algorithm, the P-Score, looks at the popularity and viewer passion of specific content — things like the amount of repeat views and how often videos are shared,” said Kate Stanford, YouTube’s head of global advertiser marketing, at the company’s Brandcast event this May.

A video’s — and a channel’s — P-Score (short for preference score) dictates whether or not content is surfaced in YouTube’s Google Preferred lineup, the advertiser-friendly, vetted, high-quality content that YouTube introduced back in 2013 and tightened the criteria for in 2018, post-Adpocalypse — the incident in spring 2017 where huge advertisers pulled their cash from YouTube after their products were being advertised against terrorist propaganda. Those in the Google Preferred lineup are just that — preferred, and able to access more advertising opportunities, and a higher return on any adverts sold against their videos.

A channel’s P-Score is graded using five key signals, according to YouTube: popularity, driven by watch time and engagement; passion, which measures channel engagement; protection, which ensures that content is appropriate; platform, which highlights content watched often on TV screens; and production, which measures the production values of a video.

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Chris Stokel-Walker
FFWD
Editor for

UK-based freelancer for The Guardian, The Economist, BuzzFeed News, the BBC and more. Tell me your story, or get me to write for you: stokel@gmail.com