Recipient of the 2018 Prize

Zachariah Levitan is recipient of the 2018 Bert & Phyllis Lamb Prize in Politic8F3940CC-5E37-4A39-9B57-4EC8EC67481Aal Science. He is an undergraduate majoring in Political Science at University at Albany, State University of New York. His faculty sponsor is Dr. Stephen Stohler, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science.

Dr. Stohler described Mr. Levitan as “…an ambitious, creative, curious, smart, and diligent student. … Zach possesses a keen sense of important political phenomenon that often escape attention. He is curious enough to look for interesting things in unusual places.” Read the full paper at Levitan, 2018.



The YouTube Adpocalypse and Adcquisition: Proposing a Change in YouTube’s Political Content Monetization Methodology


Zachariah A. Levitan

The “Adpocalypse” is how the YouTube community commonly refers to the effects of Google’s demonetization-of-content policy that it has continued to endure since March, 2017. The Adpocalypse began when major financial contributors to Google withdrew their investments upon being associated with offensive content on Google’s social media platform, YouTube.

When a video on YouTube is demonetized, it has been flagged by Google as being unfit for association with investors. Therefore, that content creator will not receive a profit regardless of how many views that video generates. Google’s demonetization policy is particularly problematic for political content creators on YouTube, as content that discusses controversial matters is denied monetization. Google fears losing more investors due to undesired expressive association, and so it is exceedingly strict in allocating advertisements.

There are multiple issues attributed to Google’s current scheme of content monetization.

One of these problems is that the Adpocalypse is shown to foster an environment in which YouTube-political careerists with enormous followings are not profiting from their successful attraction of substantial traffic to the YouTube platform. However, these political pundits have been known to form independent sponsor relationships with a diverse set of businesses and individuals. In effect—the Adpocalypse causes a massive financial opportunity loss for Google, investors, and content creators. Another problem is that Google’s demonetization policy contradicts its published principles of expression and business building on the YouTube platform. These principles are among the four essential freedoms that Google details on the YouTube ‘About’ page. In contradicting these principles, Google no longer allows for the free marketplace of ideas to serve as a means for content providers to launch a career on the YouTube platform, although providing the opportunity to do so was Google’s original intention—before tensions between these principles and profit arose out of losing investors. Additionally, viewers—the paramount stakeholders in the YouTube community—are burdened by content providers’ financial solicitation and platform changing when Google does not allocate advertisements to champions of the free marketplace of ideas.

After discussing: the genesis and continued effects of the Adpocalypse; the interests of Google’s diverse stakeholders; Google’s current system of monetization and concern with upsetting remaining investors; Google’s stated principles of expression and business building on YouTube; the free marketplace of ideas; illustrations of how Google’s currently policy negatively affects political pundits; and the principle of expressive association—the full-length paper proposes a nuanced monetization system that allows for a net increase in satisfied desires in the YouTube community. The paper names this utilitarian policy the Adcquisition. The Adcquisition establishes the first principle of promoting both a free marketplace of ideas and economics for YouTube careerists. It establishes a rationalized subscription quota for content providers to achieve a general ‘default monetization’ status. Furthermore, the Adcquisition algorithm, as further detailed, will establish personalized investor profiles so that investors can selectively  avert the allocation of their advertisements from content that they do not want to be associated with. The full-length paper also defends the first principle and algorithmic structure of the Adcquisition from theorized critics that do not believe that it provides a just structure of content monetization. The paper supplies a multidimensional analysis that details how the Adcquisition will recover the financial opportunity losses incurred by the Adpocalypse as well as facilitate a robust free marketplace of political ideas.

Copyright  Zachariah  A. Levitan,  2018