Brand deals, especially now in the time of the “Adpocalypse,” have replaced pre-roll ads (also known as”rev-share”) as a creator’s bread and butter but despite its growing prevalence in the space this way of doing business is in serious need of some transparency. A new report just out today by the Internet Creators Guild, a non-profit helping online content creators with representation and resources, provides a level of insight previously unheard of.
The report, titled “The State of The Brand Deal” and published on Medium (accompanying infographic here) surveyed 100 creators and concludes with recommended practices and rates as well as a nudge for the establishment of industry standards. Some of the ICG’s findings are a little shocking, like the .2 cents a view rate some creators were receiving (compared to a high of whole $1.80 per view for full brand integration) and how almost a third surveyed had some difficulty getting paid on-time or even at all — apparently some brands won’t pay if they don’t like the finished video! But it’s complaints like these that are one of the reasons the ICG came to exist in the first place. The report doesn’t name names and quoted individuals are anonymous, because as the ICG points out, “creators are legally prevented from disclosing the terms.”
Not surprising, 50% of the respondents said brand deals make up more than half of their income from YouTube. Creators have long figured out success on the platform depends on maintaining diverse revenue streams through not just ad revenue but merchandise, book deals and speaking tours. The report also puts to record how creators can be patronized by brands who treat creators with million-plus audiences like second-rate creatives who don’t really know what they are doing when it comes to content their audiences like. Complaints of being taken advantage of are not uncommon.
Other gems include 84% of those surveyed thinking doing too many brand deals could end up hurting their YouTube career. YouTube creators have to walk a thin line between the two extremes of “selling out” and “being authentic,” and many in the community doesn’t take kindly to creators being flashy with their YouTube money, especially if they are not being “authentic enough.” Top YouTubers are regularly hated by the plebs just for making money on the platform. The jealous thinking explained is creators should be posting content because they love to and they want to make their audiences happy, not because they want to make money. Doing multiple brand deals gives the allusion of big YouTube money even if said creator is not actually making real money from the brand deal, as this report shows.
I highly recommend checking out the full report and accompanying infographic, not just from a branding and content creator perspective, but from a labor perspective as well. The report is also admirable in its industry guideline recommendation of a whole cent and a half (yes, a whopping 1.5 cents) per view for a sponsor mention.