YouTube announced its latest feature, Super Thanks, on Tuesday. This is YouTube’s fourth Paid Digital Good, which the platform calls any product that lets fans directly pay creators. So far, these tools include Super Chat, Super Stickers, and channel subscriptions — but Super Thanks is YouTube’s first of these features that allow fans to tip creators for individual uploaded videos rather than live streams.
If viewers want to show extra appreciation for a video, they can pay creators with one of four pre-set amounts, ranging between $2 and $50 in their local currency. When viewers buy Super Thanks, they can leave a message, which will appear highlighted in the comments section.
YouTube’s previous tools for direct payments to creators seemed like a way to play catch-up with Twitch, but the platform is now differentiating itself from Super Thanks. Even Instagram has features that let users tip creators when they go Live, like Badges, but lacks a way for creators to receive a one-time payment for a post or a reel. Instead, Instagram has pivoted hard to e-commerce, which feels like a less organic or direct way for fans to engage with creators than a product like Super Thanks.
Last year was YouTube’s most enormous for Paid Digital Goods — in 2020, more than 10 million users purchased either a Super Chat, Super Sticker, or channel subscription for the first time on the platform. The number of channels that earned most of their revenue from these products in 2020 was more than 3x in 2019.
“In my spare time, I’m a YouTube creator,” said Barbara Macdonald, YouTube’s product manager for Paid Digital Goods. “I’m fortunate enough that my insights as a creator have been able to help myself and my team create better products for our users on YouTube.”
Since 2019, Macdonald and her team have worked with a group of YouTube creators to pilot this feature, called initially “applause,” as beta testers. These creators provided feedback and suggestions on the product, which YouTube took into consideration — they suggested changing the name from “applause,” adding higher pricing options to maximize revenue potential, and differentiating a Super Thanks message from other comments. YouTube takes 30% of revenue from fans’ payments to creators, while competitor Twitch takes 50% of streamers’ subscription revenue.
Super Thanks functionality will expand today to thousands of creators in 68 countries as the YouTube Partner Program members. Macdonald told TechCrunch that the expansion is randomized but will roll out to all eligible creators in the YouTube Partner Program by the end of this year.