US-based YouTubers see revenue drop on Russian-language videos

  • In early March, YouTube announced that it would restrict monetization features in Russia.
  • All videos watched in Russia, regardless of where the creator is located, no longer have ads.
  • Because of this, US-based YouTubers who post videos in Russian have seen their ad revenue plummet.

On March 3, YouTube announced that all monetization features would be blocked in Russia, meaning any video watched there would be stripped of its ads.

“Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we are suspending all Google and YouTube advertising in Russia as well as access to all monetization features,” YouTube parent company Google wrote in a statement announcing the demonetization. , which also affected features such as subscriptions. , Super Cat and Super Stickers. “This means that YouTube creators will temporarily stop earning ad revenue from views received in Russia or revenue from other monetization features.”

While some have joked that YouTube is offering a free Premium subscription to all Russian-based users by removing ads, creators — and not just those based in Russia — are less thrilled with the decision.

Russian ad removal applies to all videos watched by Russian audiences, regardless of where the creator is located. This means that creators who are part of YouTube’s Partner Program and who share their advertising revenue with the platform can no longer earn money from views originating from Russia.

A number of US-based creators who publish videos in Russian or whose audiences are primarily based in Russia have seen their ad revenue plummet.

US-based ASMR YouTuber Maria, who asked to be identified only by her first name due to her ongoing relationship with YouTube, wrote to Insider in an email that ad revenue for her Russian content – including the audience is largely located in Russia – decreased significantly.

She attached a screenshot of her most-watched Russian video data as an example. The dashboard shows that since early March, views in the Russia geographic region have increased, while its revenue has simultaneously fallen.

Maria, who is a full-time YouTuber, has decided to stop posting content in Russian altogether.

“It is very unfortunate that creators who have nothing to do with the war but who share the same language are also being punished,” she wrote in her email. “If I speak Russian, I should stop entertaining Russians or YouTube punishes me.”

Anatoly Vlasov, who lives in California and has a Russian-language channel with more than 850,000 subscribers, mainly posts videos dealing with current affairs.

In the weeks following the start of the war, Vlasov posted videos of American coverage of the conflict and saw viewership grow from an average of around 125,000 views per video to around 300,000. One video, published the day after the invasion of Ukraine, has more than 500,000 views.

“War was the only thing everyone was talking about,” he said. “People in Russia are interested in what the American media thinks about the world and their opinions on the war.”

About half of his audience watches it from Russia, he said, and he thought it was natural for them to turn to YouTube for different content than Russian state media.

“YouTube in Russia is the latest free speech platform where all opinions are allowed,” Vlasov said. “That’s why people watch it, because all other sources are censored.”

But despite the rise in viewership, Vlasov’s ad revenue has fallen 56% since February, according to screenshots seen by Insider.

In a video he posted on March 6, three days after ad blocking in Russia, he encouraged his viewers to download a VPN and change their virtual location to another country so as not to lose ad revenue.

Although he thinks some viewers did, his ad revenue hasn’t fully recovered.

Marina Mogilko

Marina Mogilko has three channels on YouTube.

Marina Mogilko

Marina Mogilko, a YouTube creator with three channels, saw ad revenue for her Russian channel, which has more than one million subscribers, drop from around $2,500 a month to $1,300, according to documentation from her income consulted by Insider.

“People are definitely looking to move away from Russian content on YouTube,” said a talent manager who works with several international creators, adding that clients who create content in Russian have lost between 10% and 20% of their revenue advertisers. “A lot of these creators are wondering if they should keep doing it, and some are looking at alternative local Russian platforms to reach this audience, but those platforms haven’t been as successful.”

In response to questions about declining revenue for creators who have audiences in Russia, a YouTube spokesperson said in an email to Insider that creators can still make money from ads and other YouTube features. monetization when their videos are served to users in countries other than Russia.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb