There is a lot of influencer advertising on YouTube, but also serious journalism. How can this be financed? How much does YouTube pay for ads? What other ways are there to fund a channel? To celebrate the 100th c’t-3003 video (or 103rd to be exact), here’s a behind-the-scenes look.
transcript of the video
(Note: This is bonus content for people who cannot or do not want to watch the video above. The video track information is not reflected in the transcript.)
Do you know what really annoys me? If I make a video or an article saying something positive about a product from manufacturer XY – and then someone comments: “Well, how much did XY pay you?” But then I also thought: Instead of just getting upset about such completely absurd allegations, maybe I really need to explain in a very transparent way how we make money here. How it works in tech journalism in general. And especially here on YouTube. And quite concretely with c’t 3003. I really say really numbers, really transparent. And while I’m at it, I’ll also answer the question I’m constantly being asked: how it works with the test devices. Stay tuned.
Dear hackers, dear Internet surfers, welcome to…
By the way, this is our 100th video on c’t 3003 (or, strictly speaking, the 103rd) – and so we thought we’d do a bit of an inside view here. By the way, completely without advertising, without a sponsor, we don’t earn a cent from this video – YouTube shouldn’t show you any advertising stuff. As a YouTuber, you can switch this on and off, you can even specify whether there should be advertising before the video, after it or in the middle; and whether it should be skippable and so on and so on.
However, not what the advertising is, i.e. from which companies it comes. And many people think that these advertisements played out by YouTube are the main source of income for YouTubers. I can only speak for this channel here and say very clearly: I couldn’t even pay my rent with the money. And I don’t do the channel alone either: It’s Sahin and Pascal, they do the visuals and edit, that’s Lukas, he’s the editor, that’s Hannah, she does the organizational stuff, that’s Mandy, Steffi from Sales… And then there is still the whole c’t editorial team.
Look here, this video is monetized by YouTube and has brought in €250.21 since it was published in early June 2022, which is about 10 months. In the first month after the upload, it only generated 109.74 euros. With a total of 70,000 views, this is certainly not our most successful video here, but it’s not the worst either – it’s about in the middle. A successful video is this one with Batocera Linux – it has 265,000 views. Well, and that’s only brought in 548.32 euros since publication. (Oh, and YouTube also passes on the income from YouTube Premium – that’s exactly 19 euros a month for us at the moment. LOL.)
So: Let’s assume that each of our four videos a month would get a quarter of a million views (which we are far from achieving at the moment and would be really good for German-speaking TechYouTube): Then (according to the current status) 550 euros per video would be paid via YouTube advertising come in. So we would be at 2200 euros per month. But there are still taxes to pay. You’ve already noticed that if you only rely on YouTube financially, yes, only giant YouTube channels with millions of views can make a living from that.
Your friendly little neighborhood YouTube channel c’t 3003 has to do things differently. We don’t do any merchandising yet (although we’d love to do that, would you be interested in t-shirts? socks? jackets? (I sell these stylish leather jackets) and yes, we don’t do that much affiliate links either – these are links to online retailers where we get a small percentage of the proceeds.
No, anyone who has seen us before knows that we offer sponsorships, so specifically after the welcome there is a mostly 30-second advertising block. It’s called “native” in technical jargon, i.e. native, because one of the people who can also be seen in the actual video speaks the advertising. So in our case, me. Yes, and according to the price list, we currently charge 4,500 euros for such a 30-second integration, that’s no secret, the PDF can be found at mediadaten.heise.de.
Customers often get a discount because they book something else in the heise universe, for example, maybe a c’t print ad. But you’ll still notice: That’s SIGNIFICANTLY more than we get from YouTube if we let them monetize it. And we also think that this has advantages for you: You then only have the one 30-second block in the video, and usually no advertising before or after it and also no text advertising. Because: If you have found a sponsor for a YouTube video yourself, you have to indicate this when uploading it and then YouTube also shows when playing it: “Contains paid advertising”. In return, YouTube then refrains from installing its own advertising material – that is, as a rule, according to our samples. However, if we can’t find a sponsor for a video, we’ll monetize YouTube.
And by “we”, I don’t mean me, I think that’s pretty important. I’m not looking for sponsors, nor do I usually have anything to do with them. Our sales department does that. Of course they sometimes talk to me, but the rule applies: the advertising department is independent of the editorial team. So they just tell me early in the week what kind of sponsor we have for the 3003 video, send me a briefing and that’s it. I also don’t know the exact conditions that were negotiated with the customers, the customers don’t know the content of the video and I’m not involved in the sales either. I get my fixed editor’s salary and that’s it. (Am I the only creator paid by the plan?)
As a journalist, I find all of this to be the cleanest. And of course it’s a balancing act – since I’m presenting the advertising, some people would certainly call me an influencer. I’m aware. But I have set some rules for myself: I describe the products that we advertise factually, but I don’t say things like: “I use the product myself” – not even when I use the product myself in real life . In addition, as I said, my salary is separate from the sponsorship proceeds. And, most importantly, when we have our 30-second commercial break, it says “COMMERCIAL” at the top. And if it says advertising up there, yes, what I’m saying is advertising. If there isn’t an ad, then what I’m saying is never an ad. So nobody paid me to say what I say.
And, no, just a few years ago I couldn’t have imagined myself as a serious, genuine journalist putting any form of advertising in my mouth. But the world just kept turning. The old revenue models in the media, for example print ads, yes, you can imagine how that will continue. That worked really well for many decades, so over 50 editors work at c’t. But the circulation of Print-c’t is falling. And I don’t think I’m a pessimist when I say that it will continue to fall – fewer and fewer people are spending money on paper. But more people watch videos – and you have to think about how to get them financed. You can’t do that with print ads. And of course, you could throw our 3003 videos behind a paywall, for example at heise+. But: Then we would not benefit from the recommendation algorithms on YouTube here; which enable us to have our videos seen by people who have never had anything to do with c’t or heise online before. And maybe they think: oh, that’s really nice what they’re doing at c’t. And maybe buy a heise+ subscription.
Speaking of c’t: c’t Magazin has been around for 40 years now, which I’m kind of proud of, even though I’ve only been there for 15 years. And of course c’t in 2023 is different from c’t in 1983 – which people keep criticizing that we’ve changed. But the core of c’t: uncompromising nerdyness and a really critical view of the tech world, that’s still the same today as it was 40 years ago. Also here at c’t 3003.
Oh yes, and I mentioned the question about the test devices at the beginning: No, of course I’m not keeping the test devices. If only because the manufacturers only lend us test devices in most cases; and we will then send them back after the test. Sometimes we keep things in the editorial office, for example for benchmarks, i.e. to compare with later products. But of course the stuff doesn’t go into my private possession. And we also have rules when it comes to gifts: If manufacturers send us something for Christmas, for example, it goes into the c’t Christmas raffle – so that the gift doesn’t end up going to the actual addressee, but someone else. Another rule is: If companies invite us and cover the travel expenses, then this is mentioned in the article or video. And if you now say: yes, but if you want to be so incorruptible, then you could just not accept anything at all?
To be honest, I’ve often thought with test devices that it would actually be great to become completely independent of the manufacturers and simply buy everything yourself instead of requesting rental devices. Because you can also imagine that at least some manufacturers are trying to put pressure on the test devices. In other words, if you’re nice, you’ll definitely get the test device early. If you’re not so nice, speak critically, you might only get it later. BUT: Experience shows that in tech journalism, an early preview or hands-on gets much more attention than an elaborate test that appears at a later point in time. A good example is the Playstation VR2: Sony had invited us to London to try out the part for a day months before it was released: the video has over 229,000 views. The actual test, for which we tested the PSVR2 much more intensively and for longer than the preview event, has less than a quarter of the views. And of course, it’s great for you outside if you get an assessment from us before sales start. We’ll keep thinking about how to do it with the test devices.
You realize: It’s not that easy. But you can really believe me that I will always make these videos here for you guys out there; and not for the manufacturers or the sponsors. But without sponsors, this channel would not be possible at the moment, you just have to say that. What do you think? Does the ad bother you? Would you prefer videos behind the heise+ paywall but without advertising? Feel free to write in the comments. And please subscribe! And keep your fingers crossed that c’t 3003 will be as old as c’t! Or even older. Bye!
c’t 3003 is c’t’s YouTube channel. The videos on c’t 3003 are independent content and independent of the articles in c’t Magazin. The editors Jan-Keno Janssen and Lukas Rumpler and the video producers Şahin Erengil and Pascal Schewe publish a video every week.