The world over, YouTube content creators, popularly referred to as YouTubers have risen to celebrity status.
Aside from the fact that many of them, especially in the U.S and Europe rack up millions of dollars annually from video views and ad placements on the video-sharing platform, many of them have become actual celebrities, in the league of movie stars and famous musicians.
These creators typically make money off YouTube through Google’s advertising network, AdSense, brand integrations in videos and sponsored videos. Some creators use all of these means to generate revenue while others depend solely on AdSense.
However, only the very popular YouTubers who get millions of views on their videos earn significantly through AdSense. In Nigeria, unfortunately, only a handful of YouTubers can boast of getting paid substantially off the Google-owned platform.
The Nigerian disadvantage
With Nigeria’s broadband penetration pegged at about 31% as of December 2018, many Nigerians who have access to the internet cannot afford to stream videos online, besides the challenge of spotty internet connections.
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“It is very discouraging for me as a video content creator,” says Tobi Ayeni, popularly known as MissTechy. “Imagine going through a lot of stress to shoot and upload a great video, only for people to watch just the first one minute or skim through because they are trying to manage the data they have,” she complains.
This is a major challenge that faces many Nigerian YouTubers who create content for the local Nigerian audience. And as Tobi pointed out, an even bigger challenge for niche tech YouTubers like herself.
“A lot of people who watch our videos are looking to buy a new device so some of them don’t bother to watch the entirety of the video. They just skip to what they’re looking for, say camera quality and then move on.”
This constraint translates into less number of views than it should, as YouTube’s algorithm will most likely recommend content it deems engaging, based on how long viewers spend on it.
This, coupled with the low Cost per Mille (CPM) — the amount of money advertisers pay each time their ads get 1000 views — in Nigeria results in YouTubers, especially those making content for Nigerians in Nigeria earning way less money off YouTube than their counterparts in other parts of the world. Even those with over one million views and subscribers.
“Since the beginning of 2018 when I started actively posting content on YouTube, I’ve only made just a little over $500,” Tobi says.
Alternatively, many Nigeran YouTube creators have to rely solely on brand integration and sponsorship to make money. More often than not, many of these creators do not make videos unless they are in partnership with or sponsored by a brand.
“The only people who get millions of views and make lots of money off YouTube irrespective of these challenges are comedians and YouTubers whose major audience are based outside of Nigeria,” says Tobi.
Eric Okafor, another tech YouTuber and Nigerian comedian, Ajebo, attest to this. Although in the case of Ajebo, despite having over 13 million views, with a majority from outside Nigeria, he isn’t generating as much money from YouTube as he’d hoped.
“I’m not generating enough money off the platform now but I should. And it is because I’ve been sharing my traffic with a lot of people who have parody Ajebo accounts and share my content on their channels,” he laments.
Local content, global relevance
“Mark Angel is doing a good job exporting his content,” Juliet Ehimuan, Google Nigeria’s Country Manager said of the producer of globally-acclaimed YouTube comedy series, Mark Angel Comedy during a recent media gathering, “Emmanuella has fans from the Middle East and all over the world because somehow the content, even though it is local, it is relatable, with a touch of humour.”
This has proven to be the hack to generating more views and racking up money directly from YouTube.
Since a majority of views for Nigerian video content is from foreigners and Nigerians in the diaspora, more Nigerian content creators would need to start creating videos that will resonate with a global audience. At least, until more Nigerians come online.
This, according to Tobi is easier said than done. Tech YouTubers for example have world famous gadget reviewers to contend with, when it comes to reviewing devices from global brands.
A local YouTuber’s content really does not stand a chance as these globally acclaimed YouTubers get millions of views per video and are ranked higher on YouTube.
“The only reason we are still in business right now is because most of the products we review are not for the global market, they are targeted primarily at emerging markets like Africa. That’s the only advantage we have.”
On the other hand, Eric believes that content targeted at Nigerians can make substantial numbers on YouTube if creators are consistent with releasing engaging content, instead of waiting around for brands to approach them.
“At this point in my YouTube career, I’m focusing on my content because my YouTube-generated revenue is starting to catch up with brand sponsorship,” he said. “I’ve been able to reach this stage because I’ve been consistent; I’ve released 2-3 videos every week in the past six weeks.”
How YouTube can help
Acknowledging the fact that until broadband penetration increases and Internet becomes more affordable in Nigeria, many Nigerian YouTubers will continue to make less money from the platform compared to their foreign counterparts.
Meanwhile, every year, YouTube trains Nigerian content creators on how best to optimise its platform and make more money. The company is also said to be more open to help its content creators with challenges they have with its platform. However, Tobi and Eric believe it can do more.
“One of the reasons why people “blow” on YouTube is because the algorithm has a funny way of recommending their videos. If there’s a way they (YouTube) can tell us what the algorithm looks out for before it recommends your video, it’ll really be helpful.” Tobi recommends.
According to Eric, a space where Nigerian YouTubers can go and create and upload videos will go a long way.
“This will be very good for collaboration and it will help us overcome many of the challenges we face as Nigerian content creators.”
YouTube has such provisions called YouTube Space in 10 cities around the world including Los Angeles, London, Dubai, Toronto, Tokyo, Berlin and Mumbai, among others, as well as pop-up spaces around the globe.
Spaces like this in Nigeria would give content creators access to better production resources, help them hone their production skills and encourage creativity.