Google reveals YouTube ad numbers for the first time, but stays silent on who benefits


Source: Flickr, Esther Vargas.

For the first time, Google’s parent company Alphabet yesterday revealed the numbers behind YouTube ads, but refused to disclose who the money goes to.

Excluding YouTube’s non-advertising revenue from products such as YouTube TV, YouTube ads generated US$15.15 billion ($22.49 billion) over the last US fiscal year, jumping up from US$11.16 billion ($16.57 billion) in 2018.

This puts YouTube ahead of major competitors such as Discovery.

However, despite Alphabet’s chief executive Sundar Pichai’s call for greater transparency in the tech industry, Google has retained tight control over the numbers it’s releasing to the public, making it difficult to measure how profitable the ad model is for the video platform.

One undisclosed figure of note includes how the ad revenue is divvied up. According to Alphabet’s chief financial officer Ruth Porat, the majority is funneled to its content creators.

Although analysts have in the past speculated YouTube ads to be a major income stream, the 35% year-on-year jump in ad revenue was somewhat unexpected, considering the impact of the so-called ‘YouTube Adpocalypse’, which began in 2016 as the platform pivoted to a more family-friendly model in the wake of several content advertising scandals.

Amid ongoing criticism of YouTube’s treatment of content creators, including the de-monetization of contractors dependent on the platform for income, the recovery in ad revenue suggests the platform is still viable for business.

The disclosures also come after it was announced in September last year that Google has been under federal and state investigation in the US for anti-competitive behaviour based around its ad business.

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