Bulletins

There's a 'giant hole' in TikTok’s creator economy, Hank Green said

The longtime vlogger said as TikTok gets bigger, paid creators will start to see less money.

TikTok app on a phone

The creator said there’s a flaw in the way people make money on TikTok.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hank Green doesn’t think creators on TikTok are getting paid well enough, and he doesn’t think the majority of the people on TikTok even realize it, the vlogger explained in a YouTube video on Thursday.


“Along with the many innovations of TikTok, there have been some creator monetization innovations that I think are really worrying and bad for creators,” he said in the video. “It’s a bit of a giant hole in the creator economy.”

Green has a huge presence on the video-sharing platform: He’s racked up over 6 million followers and has been making TikToks since 2019. He’s been creating videos for far longer than that; in 2007, Green and his brother started a video blog, and he’s branched out to several platforms like YouTube since then.

The creator said there’s a flaw in the way people make money on TikTok: As the platform continues to grow, creators will start to make less money. That’s because creators who get enough views to be paid make money through TikTok’s Creator Fund, which is a set amount of money the platform reserves each year, is static, whereas TikTok is growing. As TikTok gets bigger and the pool of money for the fund stays the same, those who can get paid won’t make as much. “When TikTok becomes more successful, TikTokers become less successful … What?” Green pointed out.

He said he experienced this issue himself. At one point, he was making 5 cents per 1,000 views on TikTok. Now, he said he makes about 2.5 cents per 1,000 views on the platform.

The platform has grown the amount allocated for its Creator Fund over the past few years. In 2020, TikTok set aside $200 million for the fund, and the platform had planned for it to grow to $1 billion in the U.S. over the following three years. At the same time, the number of users exploded from 700 million in 2020 to 1 billion monthly active users last year.

A TikTok spokesperson said the Creator Fund is one of many ways creators can make money off the platform; users can connect with brands through the Creator Marketplace, give tips and more "We continue to listen to and seek feedback from our creator community and evolve our features to improve the experience for those in the program," the spokesperson told Protocol.

But Green argued that creators will always make less than, say, YouTube, because they’re paid from a static pool of cash instead of the platform’s revenue. On YouTube, creators take about half of the money from an ad posted to their video, and YouTube takes the other half. TikTok doesn’t pay creators from ads, which Green said could be because ads are posted as individual, separate clips rather than a leading segment at the beginning of a creator’s video.

Green asked his 6 million followers how many ads they see per TikTok on average, and found that most people were getting one ad per 10 or so TikToks. He said the platform could take the money made from those ads and give paid creators some of the cut, similar to the partnership YouTube has with its creators.

“Every creator who thinks to themselves, ‘Wow, $1,000 a month, that’s $12,000 a year,'” he said. “That person could be a full-time creator. They could be thinking about expanding, about hiring, about creating a business in their community for their audience. This is the economic engine that drove YouTube forward, and TikTok is just letting it leak out of the tub, into their bottom line.”

Green said creators need to work together and speak out about the issue. He said competing platforms for creators, like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, could prompt some action from TikTok, adding that he currently makes more from Instagram Reels than he does on TikTok even though he gets more views on TikTok.

“So what are we going to do? I don’t know,” he said. “That depends on what the three populations here do: the creators, the audience and the platform. If I learned anything from 15 years, doing this, when those three groups get aligned, really amazing things happen. So I want those three groups to be aligned.”

This story was updated with a comment from TikTok.

Latest Bulletins

Mobile game revenue will decline for the first time in history this year, market research firm Newzoo now says in a revised outlook for the 2022 global games market. While the whole game industry is expected to contract by 4.3% — another first since Newzoo began tracking the market in 2007 — the company is predicting a 6.4% decline in mobile game spending on top of a 4.2% decline in console game spending.

Keep Reading Show less

Amazon is planning to lay off thousands of employees, Protocol has learned, ahead of what the company has cautioned will be a slow holiday shopping season.

Keep Reading Show less

Google agreed to pay $391.5 million and make changes to its user privacy controls as part of a settlement with a coalition of 40 state attorneys general. The coalition accused Google of misleading customers about location-tracking practices that informed ad targeting.

Keep Reading Show less

FTX has filed for bankruptcy and the crypto company also announced that founder Sam Bankman-Fried has resigned as CEO.

Keep Reading Show less

Salesforce recently updated its internal policies to make it easier for managers to terminate employees for performance issues without HR involvement, Protocol has learned, a move that comes as the software giant looks to shed as many as 2,500 jobs.

Keep Reading Show less

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said fraud and scam reports comprise the top complaint it receives about virtual currencies — and that customers are finding little help from companies when it happens.

Keep Reading Show less

Elon Musk sent his first email to Twitter staff late Wednesday, warning of a difficult economic road ahead and telling employees they need to be in office for a minimum of 40 hours per week. "Sorry that this is my first email to the whole company, but there is no way to sugarcoat the message," he began, ominously.

Keep Reading Show less

Binance isn’t buying FTX after all. The crypto giant said Wednesday it has decided that it “will not pursue the potential acquisition” based on a “corporate due diligence” review.

Keep Reading Show less

On Wednesday, John Kerry unveiled a plan for a new carbon credit program aimed at mobilizing private capital to help middle-income countries transition away from coal and move toward renewable energy.

Keep Reading Show less

Meta announced it was laying off more than 11,000 employees Wednesday morning, slashing jobs in its recruiting department and refocusing its remaining team on AI discovery, ads, and its investment in the metaverse.

"I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here," Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a message to employees that was also posted online. "I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted."

Keep Reading Show less

Al Gore has one mission this week at COP27, and that’s to give climate negotiators what he hopes will be a critical tool to address the crisis at hand: an independent, global inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, down to the individual facility.

The Climate TRACE coalition just released the world’s most detailed inventory of global greenhouse gas emissions, which Gore, a founding member, is unveiling on Wednesday at the United Nations climate summit in Egypt.

Keep Reading Show less

Way back in March, your friendly Protocol Climate team offered you some tips for writing a climate plan that doesn’t suck. Surely you took that advice. But if for some reason you didn’t, the United Nations has your back.

Keep Reading Show less

Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said Tuesday the crypto powerhouse signed a deal to acquire rival FTX.

Keep Reading Show less

Salesforce is preparing for a major round of layoffs that could affect as many as 2,500 workers across the software vendor, Protocol has learned, in a bid to cut costs amid a new activist investor challenge and harsh economic conditions.

Keep Reading Show less

BlockFi has introduced a new digital assets interest product for accredited investors, after previously agreeing to shut down a yield-paying crypto product that the SEC said was illegal.

Keep Reading Show less

The Justice Department said Monday it seized $3.4 billion worth of bitcoin stolen in the 2012 hack of the Silk Road dark web marketplace.

Keep Reading Show less

U.S. election infrastructure is exceedingly secure, and voter fraud here is so rare it’s comparable to your annual chances of getting struck by lightning. Despite this, former President Donald Trump and a long list of allies in the Republican Party have spent the last two years questioning the overall integrity of the U.S. election system. Many of those allies are now candidates themselves, and their coordinated attack on the country’s status as a democracy is not a relic of 2020. Some have already started repeating these “Big Lie” charges ahead of next week’s midterms. And the social platforms that help them spread their message have prepared few measures to stop it.

Keep Reading Show less

The White House just laid out its climate tech priorities to reach net zero by 2050.

Keep Reading Show less

Coinbase said Thursday that it lost more users in the third quarter. But the decline wasn’t the disastrous drop that Wall Street was expecting, and that sparked a rally in the crypto company’s shares after-hours.

Keep Reading Show less

The Biden administration announced $9 billion in funding Wednesday to improve home efficiency, which could help support the installation of up to 500,000 heat pumps. With winter approaching and utilities warning of gas shortages, there are some major challenges facing the technology that money can be used to tackle.

Keep Reading Show less

Block beat earnings expectations, with strong growth largely fueled by its Cash App business. Traders sent shares up more than 12% after-hours Thursday.

Keep Reading Show less

Stripe is laying off 14% of its staff, its co-founders said Thursday, as the fintech startup must start "building differently for leaner times."

Keep Reading Show less

Roku saw its revenue growth slow in Q3, and warned investors Wednesday that things are about to get worse: “A lot of Q4 ad campaigns are being canceled,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood during the company’s Q4 earnings call. “We’re seeing lots of big categories pull back. Telecom, insurance … even toy marketers are planning on reducing their spending.”

Keep Reading Show less

Green jobs and corporate climate pledges abound, but skilled sustainability professionals are scarce.

Keep Reading Show less

Robinhood reported a drop in third-quarter revenue but also a narrower loss on Wednesday, in a sign that it might be stabilizing its business as it attempts to recover from a staggering drop in the stock and crypto trading activity that fueled its growth.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins