YouTube channels that go viral or have a tendency to have their videos re-uploaded by fans onto YouTube are both in a fortunate and difficult position.
On the one hand, it’s very flattering that your fans love you so much that they want to re-upload your content onto YouTube and share it with the YouTube community.
On the other hand, it can be difficult to manage when you want your fans to look at the original version of the video you uploaded to your YouTube channel and not fan versions of your video.
All original creators want to drive all of the traffic to the videos on their own channel so that the channel builds it’s reputation across the platform and ranks higher in search results. If your videos are really viral and tend to get re-uploaded by fans, it can be difficult to build up your channel with the views split across your video and the fan videos.
Channels just starting out may decide to block the fan videos (fan videos are also referred to as User Generated Content, or UGC for short) using Content ID, to guarantee views go to the official channel. To gain access to Content ID, you need to be part of a Multi-Channel Network (MCN) so that they can help you reinforce your rights across YouTube.
Keep in mind that if you block UGC, you might make fans angry and put them off from visiting your channel at all. But, some fans are more resilient and eventually get the message to stop uploading your videos and will instead watch the videos on your channel. You can also decide to block videos for when the channel has just started, and once you’ve built up a reputation and appear first in search results consistently, you can later switch to a monetize policy for UGC.
It’s totally up to you, but in our experience we have seen blocking UGC to decrease revenue overall. So you will need to consider if getting views on your channel is more important than generating revenue in the beginning.
We have often spoken to channels who think that disabling ads for the first 24–48 hours a video goes live will help them get more views. They think that people don’t like ads on YouTube, and that by enabling ads it will increase viewer abandonment.
We have done a lot of research in this area and we know that this is definitely not true. There is no research that confirms that people abandon watching a video because of ads, and to the contrary the research that has been done indicates that people engage with the ads they watch before watching the video on your channel.
So whatever you do, make sure you enable ads on your videos when they go live, since often the first 24–48 hours a video is live is when most of the views occur and that’s when you have the opportunity to make the most money!
This is where your MCN can really help. Without joining an MCN, you can’t access Content ID and therefore, you can’t control whether to block or monetize UGC. Bigger channels often can make most of their money from UGC, since they are so popular, so it’s very important to make sure you monetize this content, otherwise it’s like you’re giving your money away to YouTube.
Sometimes bigger channels will do things off-YouTube like release a DVD, sell an album or tickets to a live show, so you’d want to drive traffic to those off-YouTube activities. In this case, you could set a block policy for UGC and upload a promo video to drive traffic to Amazon, iTunes or Ticketmaster. In these cases, selling an album makes more money than a million views so you want to maximize your money in whatever way works best.
There is no straight forward answer to knowing when to block or monetize UGC on YouTube, but the main thing to remember is to make sure you know what your end goal is, and use YouTube to your advantage to help you achieve that goal.