YouTube’s “Not suitable for most advertisers”: How To Appeal Demonetized Videos

Demonetized Youtube symbol

Has Youtube marked your seemingly squeaky-clean video as “Not suitable for most advertisers“? What’s that even mean? Well, here’s how to appeal your Demonetized YouTube videos and how to best avoid getting them flagged in the first place.

If you’re here, you’re probably already aware, but YouTube recently started flagging certain videos as “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers”. This process is entirely automatic and is a process run on all YouTube videos automatically akin to Content ID. Here I’ll share the best information I’ve found on how this process works and how to work with it.

Note that YouTube’s process for this is highly variable and opaque; I meant to publish this weeks ago but only recently am I confident that the methods outlined here actually seem to work. Expect variation in your specific circumstances.

Tap Into YouTube is a series of articles from the perspective of a gaming YouTuber, covering both the use of YouTube and how to effectively work with YouTubers to promote your game.

What Does “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers” Mean?

When you get the yellow dollar sign symbol a video is “demonetized” or in youtube’s vernacular “Not Suitable For Most Advertisers”. Despite some conspiracy theories this does not mean YouTube is “skimming” your ad money; when demonetizing videos no ads are shown, meaning YouTube gets no ad money either. YouTube gets no inherent benefit from a demonetized video.

Despite the “limited or no” advertising, as far as I can tell no or effectively no advertisers actually put videos on “unsuitable” videos. You should consider a flagged video effectively demonetized entirely. It’s possible this will change in the future if advertisers choose to opt in to this class of video.

Find Demonetized Videos

If you had a backlog of videos before the “Not suitable for most advertisers” stuff started, you might have videos demonetized without knowing. There is a search filter you can use to find them immediately; this is where you’ll want to start your quest to re-monetize as many as you can. 

However, I’ve noticed that in some rare cases videos (unlisted ones in my case) did not show in that search filter, and recently re-monetized videos may still show in that view until monetization is turned off then back on for that video.

Demonetized Youtube Videos
The infamous Yellow Dollar Sign icon is the telltale sign you’ve been Demonetized

How To Get a Video Re-Monetized

You might be afraid that applying for review may harm your channel or such, but be aware that the worst thing that can happen if you submit a failing review is that the video in fact fails the review and doesn’t get monetized. If you’re even somewhat sure a video is okay for advertising, feel free to apply for review. However, the review process is picky and should be approached tactically if possible.

Channels Over 10,000 Subscribers

A special option is available to YouTube channels having at least 10,000 subscribers; any unlisted video from such an account can be submitted for a review without hitting the 1,000 views per week threshold. This works even if the video was previously public.

It is therefore strongly recommended that you upload videos unlisted and let them sit for at several hours to let the algorithm run (it seems like it can take up to 24 hours to actually flag a video). 

To apply for review, simply click the yellow Dollar Sign icon from the Video Manager or the Monetization tab while editing a video. You’ll see the following UI:

UI to Apply for Manual Review on Demonetized YouTube videos
The UI to apply for Manual Review on the Monetization tab

If you apply for review for a public video you’ll get a scary warning that your video will only be reviewed after it reaches 1,000 views in a week. You will not see this warning if your video is unlisted, so if you see the warning cancel, refresh, and confirm the video is unlisted before applying.

If a video is already published but got flagged (such as an old video released way before this system), it may well be worth unlisting it to get it reviewed faster. All links to the content will still work while it’s unlisted, so it’s not a major harm to briefly unlist the video for manual review, especially if it’s an older video.

Note that the reviews are still manual, so you may have to wait a few days. As of publishing this article, an unlisted video seems to take a week to get monetized (if it was previously published).

Prior to the last couple weeks, unlisted videos seemed to sit in limbo for weeks or possibly forever. The whole reason I didn’t publish this article earlier was until now, I was not sure this method even worked. Feedback and speed of review seems to have improved drastically in the last month.

Public videos that you already sent in for review can still be unlisted to speed up their review times. To minimize impact on your channel you may choose to unlist only a few at a time to make sure they actually get reviewed. Of course, be sure to re-list them after publishing. Find all your unlisted videos here.

Videos Over 1,000 Views Per Week

If you don't have over 10,000 subscribers or you don't want to unlist your video, you'll have to reach 1,000 views for YouTube to bother reviewing your video. You can and should submit for review before hitting the threshold, but it will simply sit in the queue until it hits (or approaches) the threshold.

I have had videos seemingly get reviewed just before hitting 1,000 (and some well after 1,000) within a couple days of publishing. It's possible that videos on target to hit 1,000 views well before the week is up have some priority in the queue. As with entirely too many things on YouTube, it is effectively impossible to tell how this process actually works.

There's not much to tell here, other than 1,000 a week videos seem to get reviewed much faster than unlisted videos. If you're confident a video will hit 1,000 views and you really want it out now, it's up to you to gamble with publishing it to hit the threshold but remember that means all those 1,000 (and possibly many, many more) are going to be non-monetized views.

Personally I would use the Unlisted method if at all possible, as the alternative is basically "pray you get views but also get re-monetized in time to actually benefit from said views". Not really a fun place to be.

How To Avoid Getting Demonetized In The First Place

The best thing to do is to simply thoroughly tag, describe, and title every video before applying for monetization. Give it a thumbnail too. Go to your Upload Defaults page and uncheck "Monetize With Ads" to be sure your videos aren't sent for monetization before everything is all ready.

Why? When the AI attempts to confirm if a video is "clean" it appears to default to "unclean", so if there isn't enough metadata it simply dumps you in the naughty bucket.

You should also avoid needless swearing in titles, especially if you do not expect them to hit the 1,000-views-a-week review threshold; references to swearing, violence, and sex are particularly likely to be flagged.

What Content Gets Matched?

Short answer: Who knows. It's incredibly random on a good day.

Official answer:

  • Controversial issues and sensitive events
  • Drugs and dangerous products or substances
  • Harmful or dangerous acts
  • Hateful content
  • Inappropriate language
  • Inappropriate use of family entertainment characters
  • Incendiary and demeaning content
  • Sexually suggestive content
  • Violence

Longer, more accurate answer:

I've seen all of the following get demonetized on my own channel:

  • Swearing in description or title fields
  • Violence related words like "death"
  • Videos without sufficient tags/description/titles
  • The names of violent/sexual/etc games, movies, or other works of fiction
  • Completely random crap with nearly identical content, description, and wording to other videos that were not demonetized
  • The same video, after initially being monetized
    • Then the same video being remonetized
      • Then the same video again being demonetized a second time after a day or so
  • Consistently matched content on a topic even though the topic is inoffensive, such as:
    • AbyssRium, a game about raising fish
    • Animal Crossing, a game about nothing

YouTube also seems to be cracking down on a surreal ring of seemingly algorithmically generated "children's" content that is disturbing or inappropriate.

As per above, the best thing you can do for your channel is thoroughly, describe, thumbnail and title your videos, and avoid needless swearing.

Also do not assume a video matching any of the above criteria will definitely be rejected by manual review: I have had several Senran Kagura videos manually approved (an M rated game with sexual themes), as well as a video with "fuck you" in the title approved.

On the other hand, a video with "f*ck" in the title, censored, was manually rejected. Expect inconsistency, the only way to know is to apply, so apply as soon and often as you can.

    Why Did YouTube Do This Anyway?

    They allegedly wanted to cut down on advertisers inadvertently being associated with and paying money to extremist content (Neo Nazis, ISIS, etc). After all literally giving money to terrorists is a sort of bad look.

    Why they decided to do this convoluted mess instead of actually removing videos that were already clearly in violation of their Terms of Service I can't even begin to fathom. Then, they beganremoving said extremist videos anyway making this whole affair seem like an incredibly expensive waste of everyone's time. Cool beans.

    Latest Changes To The YouTube Partnership Program

    This is kind of out of scope, but just yesterday YouTube dropped another bomb on small channels that will do nothing to solve it's actual problems: channels are now required to hit 4,000 Watch Hours in the last 12 months and have 1,000 subscribers in order to apply for partnership.

    No channels will be grandfathered in, and existing monetized channels with over $10 in unclaimed earnings will be paid out even if they don't meet the payment threshold on their last day as a partner. Existing channels that don't meet the new requirements were given a 30 day notice today; their channels will remain active but be removed from the partnership program.

    Can't help you with this one, just thought it warranted mention.

    Does Any Of This Benefit YouTube?

    As a community? Definitely not. As a company? Still no, as far as I can tell. YouTube really just seems to be doing the minimum they possibly can to look busy to advertisers without actually solving their problem.

    Especially the latest monetization threshold seems designed to cull the most users while doing the least harm to their bottom line so they can say to advertisers "look, we have so much less channels so obviously our moderation can handle them better, right??"

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