Why your monetization application got rejected and what to do about it

This article is to explain some common reasons behind the messages that YouTube gives you when rejecting your monetization application.

Note: YouTube only recently started to hand out rejections for monetization applications in late June 2018. Due to this, this page still is a work-in-progress. 

How to find the reason?

You can find a general reason by going to your monetization page. Details on each reason can be found below.

Duplication

If your channel is disabled for monetization because of duplication, it means that some of your content is identical with some other content on YouTube. This happens for example if you upload

  • public domain footage
  • royalty-free music
  • videos other people made (reuploads)
  • compilations
  • reading outs of stories posted on other websites
  • recordings of live concerts, DVDs, TV shows, and other copyright infringing activity
  • possibly: unedited, uncommentated gameplay videos*

While you may have the necessary rights to upload the video, AdSense has an “imperative of originality“, making channels largely based around duplicate content ineligible for monetization.

To clarify, using third party footage in videos is still allowed for monetization (if all the licenses are in place), however, having a channel that has a focus on the third party footage (eg a music promotion channel or a compilation channel) is not.

* “Videos simply showing a user playing a video game or the use of software for extended periods of time may not be accepted for monetization.” says https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/138161?hl=en. So this content getting rejected from monetization is expected, the category it is listed in may be unexpected though. 

How to fix this?

In order to get your channel eligible for monetization again, you need to remove all duplicate content. If all your content is duplicate content, you may want to look at alternative monetization models such as Patreon or merchandise instead as deleting all your videos probably isn’t going to be worth it (especially considering that you’d drop to 0 watch hours again without any videos).

For uncommentated gameplay content, you may want to do other kinds of gameplay videos, for example heavily edited videos, machinimas, reviews or commentated walkthroughs.

You can reapply after 30 days.

Impersonation

If your channel is disabled for monetization because of impersonation, it means that your channel is confusingly similar to another channel, so for example:

  • same avatar
  • same name
  • same channel banner
  • same thumbnails
  • same videos
  • same video titles

How to fix this?

Change the points mentioned above to something different. You can reapply after 30 days.

View count spam

If your channel is disabled for monetization because of view count spam, it means that you have been using means to illegitimately obtain views. For example:

  • View bots
  • Purchasing views from websites promising “real views”
  • Having your own videos running for extended periods of time in the background
  • Participating in exchanges (sub4sub, view4view)
  • Incentivizing people to watch your videos

How to fix this?

Stop using the above methods to get views. You can reapply after 30 days.

Video spam

If your channel is disabled for monetization because of video spam, it means that you have uploaded many overly similar videos, for example: “Learn how to count with soccer balls”, “Learn how to count with elephants”, “… with tires”, lipsticks, bees, soda bottles, trains, and so on. In other words, if a viewer could accurately predict how most of your videos will look like after just watching one or two of them, you likely are going to get not approved.

It may also mean that you have uploaded other content that typically is classified as spam, ie large amounts of untargeted, repetitive and otherwise unwanted videos.

How to fix this?

Instead of uploading videos that are mostly based around the same idea and iterate through details, make unique videos.

Misleading Thumbnails

If your channel is disabled for monetization because of misleading thumbnails, it means that your thumbnails did not represent the contents of your video.

How to fix this?

Your thumbnail should represent what your video is about. So the easiest way to not go wrong on this is to screenshot a specific frame of your video and use that as thumbnail. You may want to take at the Creator Academy lesson on making good thumbnails: https://creatoracademy.youtube.com/page/lesson/thumbnails

You can reapply after 30 days.

Other Reasons

There may be other reasons that I’m not aware of at the time of writing. If you got rejected for a different reason, please let me know in the comments!


The below happens only if you already have been monetizing already and now monetization disabled

Repeated submission of ineligible videos and/or insufficient documentation

If your channel is disabled for monetization because of repeated submission of ineligible videos and/or insufficient documentation, it means that

  • Videos you submitted for monetization got claimed by a right holder
  • When asked for documentation of commercial use rights, you didn’t send sufficient documentation proving you have said rights
  • Videos you submitted for monetization repeatedly were confirmed to be not advertiser-friendly by reviewers

How to fix this?

There is no fix. You have shown to YouTube repeatedly that you aren’t a reliable business partner, and they no longer want to conduct business with you.

Invalid Click Activity

AdSense has a quite extensive help article on this topic themselves: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/57153?hl=en

TL;DR: Invalid click activity happens if people click on your ads with the intention to generate money for you, rather than because they’re interested in the ads. It’s up to you as an AdSense partner to report any suspicious activity to AdSense, and to try to not direct any bad traffic (like view-/clickbots) to your channel.

How to fix this?

If you get your monetization disabled for invalid click activity initially, you’ll have to wait for 30 days for your AdSense account to come back – sometimes.

In other times or severe cases your AdSense account will be disabled permanently. You can appeal (see the help page linked above), but you’ll have to come with a good explanation on why the click activity was valid (eg: “this video suddenly got viral in a certain country and got featured all over the news” if that’s why your video got a lot of views in a short time).
An appeal that is saying basically “I didn’t do anything” is unlikely to help you (because you not monitoring your traffic is the very issue here).

As a final note, if this happens to you while you’re partnered with an MCN, you’ll have to work with them to get your AdSense account reinstated.

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