Two years ago, Fullscreen approached me to have my Youtube video channel join their advertising network. I thought about it, chatted with one member-gardener and entered a two-year contract. The recruiter assured me I’d make more money and get more support for my developing video channel if I signed on with them. And indeed, they had an impressive roster of big guns they worked with. I decided it was worth the two-year gamble – to give then 30% of the advertising revenue for the special advertising promotions, channel development tools and access to other video creators in their closed forums. I was closing in on 2 million views of my videos and thought this would be a “next step” kind of development.
Signed, sealed and hooked into their network I had access to the apps, forums and tech support assigned to my channel.
First look at the Apps.
- Ah, well, the “apps” are discount coupons to various t-shirt and promotional companies. Of no use to me I decide. I don’t sell hard goods to readers (although maybe I should) Anything else? Free music for my videos were listed. This is the same thing that YouTube itself does I decide. Nothing here for me.
- Upload videos from YouTube to Facebook automatically? Yes, but that’s not something you couldn’t already do if you were at all tech-savvy. I noted that now, two years later, you upload the video directly to Facebook without going through YouTube because Facebook gives you a bigger distribution if you upload directly. (There’s a Facebook versus YouTube war going on for the video market.)
- I fired up the vaunted Fullscreen Analyzer software to test all of my videos and tell me what I should be improving. Input my channel name and it whirred and spit out a series of recommendations for me to improve my channel. Allow me to cut to the chase here. The software was buggy and didn’t work at all well. And once you ran it the first time, it couldn’t be reset to take into account any improvements or changes you might have made. Plus there was nothing there that YouTube itself wasn’t telling you to do in their creator series (available to all YouTubers).
I take up the challenge, head to the membership forums to discover a cesspool of spamming (Watch my channel, watch my channel !).
The main and most involved forum conversations were from disgruntled members wanting to know how to break their contracts. (You can’t.) It’s a two-year commitment and there’s a very specific method at the end to terminate. Miss the window and you’re toast for another two years.
So at the end of my first hour in the forums, I take a deep breath.
What Happens Next?
I get three emails from my “personal support guy” with one repeated recommendation. Buy a XXX microphone system to do your sound. Don’t use the mic system you’re currently using, but switch to this one. I drop $100 bucks on his recommendation, use it twice and go back to my old system. It may not be the greatest sound but it works reliably without a lot of messing about. To his credit, he did make a few recommendations about adding material to the descriptions (which I also found later in the YouTube Creator content).
After the first two months, I never hear from him again for the rest of my two years. This was a familiar story within the forums. You’ll get two months of contact and then silence.
But They Have Advertisers. Right?
Well, not really. They had something called a “gorilla” campaign which you could apply to, make a video about/promoting the product and get paid a specific amount per viewer. For example, if they were promoting XXX brand short pants, I’d make a video somehow mentioning XXX brand short pants and I’d get bonus money. Mind you, in the two years I was in the network, I didn’t see a single product I’d even consider promoting on my gardening channel. Not one.
But don’t worry, that program is cancelled and they’re moving onto something else. (I have no idea what that is nor do I care.)
And yes, they do have other advertisers but the ads I saw on my videos weren’t aimed at a gardening demographic.
So Did You Make More Money?
Nope. My YouTube income was cut in half during the time I was in the Fullscreen network. Which means they weren’t even making my original amount from their advertising customers and then after taking their 30% cut, I received less than half of what I had been making. If you’re a recognized national brand looking for someone to manage your advertising, then you may be fine. But if you’re a single operator like I am, I doubt the income is going to match what YouTube/Google produces for you.
Note: In June 2012, I earned just over $250 from my Youtube account. The graph from that point is straight down and even the next May-June, it never approaches the original amount.
I set up a series of calendar reminders around the specific dates I needed to use to cancel my contract. Worked through it. Got my contract cancelled (in spite of an offer for a higher percentage of the advertising revenue which I declined).
As of June 2, 2015 my channel is once again under my full control.
- To set my YouTube channel back up, I had to go through all the steps to get advertising back onto my channel.
- When Fullscreen ended the contract, my channel didn’t revert back to its original customized settings but rather to the base settings. I spent several hours checking every video to ensure the right boxes were check-marked and advertising approved for that video.
- I discovered YouTube had sent emails questioning the ownership of the content of three videos (images and sounds) and had removed advertising rights from those three videos. I never received these emails so I have no idea where they went. They were slightly older videos and I don’t have the music sources (you have to send YouTube the source urls to prove the music is available for free use) so I deleted them rather than have my channel compromised.
Would I Join Fullscreen Again?
- Not in my lifetime. Is that clear enough for you?
- The promises are there when the recruiter is talking to you but the reality is those promises don’t work out for the average Fullscreen member. The forums were crystal clear about this. And even though my YT views are over 2 million, I’m simply not big enough or in the right genre.
- It was a two-year test. It cost me a few thousand dollars. I’ll trust Google and YouTube to put the best advertising on my videos and I’ll reread the Creator Manual to update myself about current best practices.
The Only Two Steps to Make A Great Video Channel
- Read the YouTube creator manuals – do what they say.
- Create great videos. No advertising network is going to help you if your videos aren’t great. Take courses for the tech side of things and improv-acting for the fun of it all. Get good at what you do.
If you’re considering making your own video, use the YT sources starting here inside their Help Center.
And trust the real pros at Google to deliver the best ads for your work because they simply do it better than anybody else.
And if you asked me for a one word recommendation about joining Fullscreen – that word would be “don’t”.
(As a last word, the forums were also clear that other Networks were no better for the small video producer and some were even worse.)
The majority of you won’t find this of interest other than as a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes, but I wanted to put this note online for other folks. Two years ago, I wasn’t able to find any reviews about the service.
July 2015 Update
This is my income graph once I regained control of my Youtube channel. Pretty much speaks for itself I’d say.