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John and Hank Green finally add ads to their YouTube channel

The money is being split between the Vlogbrothers’ charity Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck and a new initiative to fund educational videos


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Posted on Jul 21, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 10:27 pm CDT

No one likes pre-roll ads. You just want to watch a video, not have YouTube force you to sit through a 30-second commercial beforehand. 

But viewers of the uber-popular Vlogbrothers channel seem to think otherwise: They recently voted to include pre-roll ads before the videos they watch.

Last week, author and Vlogbrother John Green asked his YouTube subscribers whether they’d support the channel switching on pre-roll ads, and the viewers voted overwhelmingly in favor—not because they love ads, but because the money is being split between the Vlogbrothers’ charity Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck and a new initiative to fund educational videos.

Hank Green has shared the channel’s revenue data from the first day of pre-roll ads, and it looks like their earnings have already skyrocketed. Answering a question about his desire to be transparent about the channel’s earnings, he wrote, “I see our business as being owned by Nerdfighteria more than it is owned by me. If I have an unofficial board of directors with 200,000 passionate, caring people on it, that’s fine with me.”

The relationship YouTubers have with advertising is very different from that of music videos or other commercially produced clips. For people who subscribe to indie, usually amateur YouTube channels, sitting through a pre-roll ad is more like paying a subscription fee. It’s a passive way of supporting an artist or YouTube personality you enjoy, without actually having to buy any merchandise or sign into Paypal.

In the case of the Vlogbrothers, there’s an additional aspect of social responsibility. Thanks to the transparency of the Green brothers’ various charitable ventures, viewers can easily understand how pre-roll ads can be used to their advantage, instead of just being a frustrating roadblock in the way of watching the next video.

Photo via popwrapped/Tumblr

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*First Published: Jul 21, 2014, 9:00 am CDT