‘Committed to introducing more revenue opportunities for our creators’, Youtube’s Ajay Vidyasagar


A few weeks ago, Alphabet-owned Youtube turned heads with its creator ecosystem report. The report claimed that the YouTube creative ecosystem contributed Rs 6,800 crore to the Indian economy in 2020. Ajay Vidyasagar, Regional Director, APAC, YouTube Partnerships, broke down the figures from Storyboard18 as he highlighted the changing trends of content and how India is now seeing content beyond Hindi and English. “YouTube’s language is really your native language,” he said.

Edited excerpts.

The YouTube creative ecosystem contributed Rs 6,800 crore to the Indian economy in 2020 and supported 6,83,900, according to your recent report. Can you explain how?

Traditionally, content was either movies, news or music, but when YouTube came along, we created this phenomenon of content creation. 25% of everything on YouTube is high quality productions from major media companies, followed by 25% highly engaging music content from music companies and music creators and 50% from what we have on YouTube today is creator content in different formats and different genres. This community is growing and, in doing so, generating enormous economic value in India, not only for creators, but also for businesses, employees and consumers across the country.

One of the main sources of YouTube’s economic impact is the income the platform redistributes to its creators, which can include ad sales, payments for eight alternative monetization features such as channel subscriptions and Super Chat, and royalties paid to music and media companies. We call the profits and revenue of these creators the direct economic impact of the YouTube ecosystem in India.

Can you rank us the best categories of creators and which are the most successful? What percentage of Rs 6,800 crore came from regional creators?

Even though YouTube caters to one of the largest communities of learners, we have seen the continued rise of genres such as factual and knowledge-based channels, science and experiences. On the other hand, established genres continue to evolve. In 2021, gaming has become a rich and diverse terrain for storytelling and community building, with a notable presence among top creators, top escape creators, top escape creators, and even top court creators. footage. In fact, a five-hour live stream of the FreeFire World Series Finals in 2021 has become one of the most popular videos in India this year. Comedy as a genre continues to thrive with a broadening of its contours thanks to the emergence of new voices and new formats.

Finally, we have seen that creativity is no longer the stronghold of urban creators and artists, with regional content, music and storytelling formats fueling new genres, from village cuisine to regional VTubers, that is- i.e. avatar-based YouTubers. Telugu channels Filmymoji and Funmoji are scripting the rise in popularity of Animoji and avatar-based content. This content is popular because it is relevant and captures themes of everyday middle-class life, but told in an innovative format. We have seen the continued rise of Bhojpuri music with artists Ankush Raja and Shilpi Raj leading the subculture as it continues to thrive across geographies.

How does India compare when it comes to content from creators, both in terms of volume and revenue?

In 2019, we had over a thousand creators with a million subscribers in India, and today we continue to see phenomenal growth from this vibrant and well-established community of creators. Today, we have 4,000 creators and over 1 million subscribers, and that number is growing 50% year over year. Additionally, we have over 40,000 creators who have over 100,000 subscribers in India. We have always recognized this potential in India and were the first company to invest in our creator-focused outreach and acceleration efforts.

Can you explain the revenue share model for independent creators on Youtube? How to differentiate it from other platforms?

More than 2 million creators participate in the YouTube Partner Program (PPY) globally, and many of them are in India. The YouTube Partner Program allows eligible creators to leverage different ways to generate revenue from ads, YouTube Premium, and other revenue streams. We looked to find new revenue streams that leverage creator-fan relationships to deliver added value, such as paid digital goods (Super Chat, Super Stickers, and channel subscriptions).

We see success with all types and sizes of designers through our Merchandise feature direct from Garden Up, which offers a range of niche gardening products direct to popular everyday streetwear from BB Ki Vines. We’ve seen the impact of our new monetization features during the pandemic, both on VOD and live, which allows creators to connect with their fans in real time and offers monetization via Super Chat and Super Stickers.

The number of YouTube channels with revenue of Rs 100,000 or more has increased by more than 60% year-on-year. Additionally, we have seen a demonstrable impact from these revenue streams, with over 100% growth in creator revenue in India from features such as Super Chat, Super Stickers, Channel Subscriptions and Merchandise between February and May 2020. Finding new ways to reward trusted creators financially and help them grow their businesses will always be a top priority for us.

Various artists have been called in to buy views on the platform, including big names in Bollywood. How do you solve this problem?

We are constantly reviewing the platform, our algorithms, and the overall signals that help generate viewership and revenue. We also continue to innovate and constantly tweak our algorithms to ensure that no malpractice is allowed.

So we are constantly making changes to the Algorithm Engine, Recommendation Engine and Suggestion Engines. Over the past 10 years, we’ve changed the algorithm to focus on watch time, not views.

What type of short growth video did she bring to YouTube? And how does it compare to short video features on other global and local platforms?

What trends in India are not only shaping the creative currency in India but also influencing changes across the world. That’s why India was the first country where we launched YouTube Shorts. Today, Shorts has surpassed 5 trillion all-time views worldwide. We are seeing an unparalleled diversity of content on shorts and Indian creators are using it in imaginative and creative ways, even beyond dance and music to explore content in facts and motivation, games, comedy, cooking, beauty and technology. We will continue to invest in shorts and introduce new video effects and tools, such as responding to comments by creating a short.

Are there new, innovative or interesting ways for brands to reconnect and engage with creators? And what are the new pain points on both sides – the brands, the creators, the platform?

Flipkart created new and unique content to generate excitement and boost user awareness and engagement, during The Big Billion Days. He leveraged YouTube’s ecosystem of content creators to produce a 10-episode game show, Big Billion Muqabla.

Similarly, UpGrad launched a series, BeYouNick X upGrad Originals The Office Canteen, which was hosted on BeYouNick’s channel on YouTube. UpGrad collaborated with BeYouNick aka Nick to create the three-episode comedy series also featuring eight other top creators.

Another example is iQOO which has partnered with three major streamers – Tanmay Bhat, Samay Raina and GamerFleet on YouTube through a streaming talent hunting IP called Raid Nights.

It’s important for brands to be rigorous in understanding the challenge, defining their goals and objectives, and then engaging creators and influencers strategically. This will make the campaign itself more effective and the measurement of impact more meaningful and effective.

The same robust measurement tools that work for brand campaigns as a whole can also help measure influencer marketing results since metrics like awareness, recall, or sales don’t change. Video reach, unique viewers, engagement are important metrics for brands.

What are your expectations from 2022?

People have found real value in online video, and I think a lot of the changes we’ve seen in the last 2 years are long term changes. 2021 was a solid year, it actually saw significant growth over 2020. It was an extraordinarily fertile year where creators actually started unlocking more value through monetization and fan funding avenues. The passion and ambition of our creators drives us to continue innovating new ways to help them achieve their goals and we are committed to introducing more revenue opportunities for our creators.


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