David Dobrik Survives Increasingly Harsh YouTube Environment

Influencer manages to get creative in wake of new policies

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Photo by NordWood Themes

New Youtube advertising policies forces influential Youtuber David Dobrik to come up with other streams of revenue.

Alexis Jackson, Reporter

David Dobrik is an ex-Viner, perfumer, app creator and YouTuber, best known for his 4-minute and 20-second vlogs he uploads three times a week.

Dobrik started his YouTube career in 2015, 10 years after the website’s founding. The site was founded back in 2005 as a way for users to upload, share and view videos. Around 2010, YouTube, and other platforms like Twitter and Instagram, started to showcase a new type of content creator who gained popularity often in the thousands: influencers.

Influencers are individuals who can affect the purchase decisions of those who follow them, often through social media. Famous influencers include Kylie Jenner, Beyoncé, Arianna Grande and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Dobrik has grown his success on YouTube by infamously using clickbait titles to lure people into his videos. Some of his most famous are “SURPRISING PEOPLE WITH KYLIE JENNER,” “CONFESSING HIS LOVE FOR MY ASSISTANT!!” and “MY TESLA FLEW OFF THE GROUND!!” 

Using various stunts and skits that appeal to Generation Z, Dobrik has become one of the most popular influencers on YouTube.

“[I like watching Dobrik’s vlogs because] it’s short, so it doesn’t take up too much time, and it’s entertaining every second,” sophomore Brooks Baker said.

His unique editing style and content have helped him gain over 7 billion views. Dobrik infuses elements of both reality television and talk shows but gives them a Gen Z twist. 

Dobrik has taken the shock value that used to come from on-screen fights and fake drama and replaced it with wow-factor instead. The type of emotion that is expressed through Dobrik’s vlogs had previously been missing from YouTube. 

He’s taken his friends on an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas, surprising them with scorpions and even helped college students out with their tuition. The unpredictability of his vlogs, as well as a distinctive cast, keeps viewers coming back.

“His friends are really fun,” said sophomore Tori Acquista, a long time follower of Dobrik.

Dobrik’s group is one of the causes of his stardom. Each member adds a unique sense of humor to the dynamic. For example, Zane and Heath are the jokesters, known for frequently jumping off beds and getting in a pool in the back of a U-haul. Scotty brings deadpan humor, and Dobrik brings light-hearted Nickelodeon humor. They all help each other bounce back and forth to create unscripted comedy. 

Dobrik has also invited celebrities like Josh Peck, John Stamos and Kendall Jenner. Subscribers see their idols goofing around in the front seat of a Tesla. 

Although YouTube can be more natural than traditional media, now during the age of cancel culture and overnight influencers,  it has become harder for YouTubers to remain true to their content.

“I think [YouTubers] are changing because of cancel culture. They are now being cautious of their image,” Acquista said. 

This social climate has brought more challenges for YouTubers to navigate.

In the summer of 2020 after Black Lives Matter protests renewed in the wake of the death of George Floyd, another popular YouTuber, Jenna Marbles, announced to the world she would be leaving YouTube. This was after she faced backlash against old videos that she and others viewed as racist and sexist. She also mentioned she wasn’t enjoying making YouTube videos any longer. 

Social pressure is not the only restriction YouTubers face. In recent years, YouTube has been implementing stricter rules to regain advertisers’ trust. Google announced what they called “tough but necessary” changes. 

“These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing ,which can hurt revenue for everyone,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of business, said in a January 2018 blog post announcing the changes.

YouTube’s new reforms forced YouTubers to change how they approach their content. 

The new rules discouraged swearing, inappropriate behavior and usage of any copyrighted material. Going against any of these new rules meant that your channel was not “advertiser friendly,” meaning that YouTube’s algorithm would not recommend your videos, or you wouldn’t make any money off of the video. 

This led to YouTubers censoring themselves to appeal to advertisers.

“YouTubers aren’t entertaining. It’s not a target for me anymore, more for younger kids,” sophomore Olivia Jackson said.

During YouTube’s “Adpocalypse,” many of the sites’ advertisers pulled their sponsorship. Dobrik experienced this firsthand by going from $275,000 a month in revenue, to most recently earning under $2,000, as he told Men’s Health. 

His decline in revenue arose from his signature use of fun and current songs getting copyrighted as well as his “inappropriate” content on his channels.

But to Dorbik, he says it is more important that his videos are true to what he wants them to be rather than making them more advertiser-friendly.

Dobrik looked for other sources of revenue from more “secure jobs.” He spent time during this year hosting a variety of TV shows, launching a new perfume and building a photo editing app that recently gained a $4 million dollar investment, all while being absent from his YouTube channel.

Though social media platforms may be changing, the usage of social media is still relatively the same. There are already about 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, with 1.8 of them being on YouTube alone. In the future, users can expect YouTube to continue enforcing its rules in its goal to make it a safe space for everyone.