YouTube Restricts Use of External Link Cards to Partner Programme Members Only

External link cards are commonplace on YouTube, allowing content creators to seamlessly link their videos to their own platforms, affiliate sites, Patreon accounts or just about anywhere else they may desire, where appropriate of course. This functionality provides an important revenue stream for many of YouTube’s content creators, whether it be their sole income from the channel or used simply to supplement earnings from the monetisation of their videos.

However the famed video platform has now managed to infuriate a large number of content creators who operate smaller channels or do not wish to opt in to the YouTube Partner Programme, as they have now restricted the use of external link cards to those involved in the programme.

While creators are not required to actually enable monetisation in order to make use of link cards, they do have to be a YouTube Partner, and to do that you need 10,000 channel views. This is where much of the frustration stems from, as it essentially blocks any smaller channels from linking to the very pages that help them to grow their audience and revenue outside of YouTube’s own platform. Couple this with the complete lack of prior notice concerning the change and it plain to see why many creators are kicking up something of a fuss about this.

The absence of any announcement from YouTube is perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this change, as it did not allow those affected by it to make the necessary adjustments ahead of time, instead catching them unaware. In fact, YouTube only commented on the change at all after said creators started to notice and question the new policy, in response to which YouTube released the following statement:

“In order to use externally-linking end cards in videos, creators are being asked to join the YouTube Partner program, so that we can evaluate the validity of the channel, as well as determine whether the channel is following our community guidelines and advertiser policies. This update is meant to curb abuse and does not affect current YouTube partners or existing end cards. Additionally channels do not have to actually monetize any videos as part of this requirement.”

From the above statement it does appear that the policy change is intended to discourage and prevent the abuse of external link cards on the platform, rather than simply inconveniencing their users in an effort to drive up numbers relating to the Partner Programme (although I’m sure that played some role in the decision). The new policy places an additional level of scrutiny on creators and their content via the existing guidelines of the YouTube Partner Programme, under which all applicant channels are fully reviewed before being accepted. As a result, browsing through the platform and any links that may appear therein should be a safer experience for the end user.

Overall I think people’s stance on this shift will depend highly upon their relationship with the platform; those who only visit the site to watch videos rather than create them will likely see this as a positive change, while those operating larger channels will likely be largely unaffected. It is unfortunately the smaller channels that will be hit hardest by this, as their revenue and growth will undoubtedly be hindered by the lack of external link cards. The same links can still be placed in the description box of videos, but these are deemed rather inconvenient and as such, they are scarcely used by anyone.

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