How to make money on YouTube in South Africa

Video-streaming site YouTube is a valuable advertising platform for its parent company Google, with hundreds of millions of hours of videos uploaded generating billions of views.

According to World Wide Worx and Fuseware, South Africa had 8.28 million YouTube users in 2016.

Talk Radio 702 interviewed Google South Africa country director, Luke Mckend, on how South Africans can make money on the video platform.

In December, Forbes released its list of top-earning YouTube stars in 2016, with the world’s most popular internet star taking home over $15 million (R204 million).

Swedish ‘Let’s Play’ YouTuber, Felix Kjellberg – known as PewDiePie – retained the top spot on the list, leveraging his sizeable audience to make money beyond YouTube revenue made from people watching him play video games online.

The YouTube star extended his reach through branded mobile games, and even published a book, taking his total earnings for the year up to $15 million (up from the $12 million he made in 2015).

This is significantly higher than anyone else on the list – almost double 2016’s number 2, Roman Atwood, a popular “vlogger” (video blogger) and prankster, who earned $8 million.

Mckend said that it is possible to generate a livable income from YouTube in South Africa. “You really have to think very carefully about the kind of content you are going to create. Folks who are able to make a living off YouTube really reach international audiences.”

He said the model works in such a way that YouTube places an advert that either appears before a video or an advert appears just to the right of the screen – a static display advert.

“We give the content creator a cut from that particular advertisement,” Mckend said.

Each individual advert, he pointed out, is a relatively small sum of money. “So for someone to make a genuine living from YouTube, you need to be delivering millions and millions of views.”

He said that, in a South African market, delivering those kinds of hits is difficult. “The guys who have been super successful, have reached an international audience,” Mckend said.

The Google exec pointed to channels like Kruger Sightings which appeals to a wide audience including people from the US and UK, and Yellow Brick Cinema – which generates relaxing music, reaching a global audience.

When questioned how much a person can make from uploading content, Mckend said: “Each individual play you are talking about very small percentages of a rand. The last time I looked at this in any detail, you would probably get paid something in the region of R1,000 per million views…that’s an estimate.”

Mckend said that the way people make money from YouTube though has very little to do with the advertising. He said that many content generators are creating ecosystems around their content that enables them to monetize what they do.

He cited SuzelleDIY as an example. “She has created a brand that has launched her into television. She is making a lot more money from her activities surrounding her YouTube channel than from the channel itself.”

Mckend cautioned that it only shares money with content providers if an advert is viewed to its conclusion or if it is viewed for more than 30 seconds. He said the reason for this is that Google only charges advertisers for the placement if the advert it watched to its conclusion.

Read: These are the most-watced YouTube videos in South Africa in 2016

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