What is YouTube automation?

# What is YouTube automation?

YouTube Automation is an umbrella term that actually means different things to different people. You could say the term is ambiguous, depending on context.

Broadly, there’s 3 things that fall under the Umbrella:

  • Outsourcing the production of YouTube Videos
  • Automating YouTube engagement
  • Automating YouTube channel management

Automation can range from putting your channel on auto-pilot with outsourcing, legitimate use of software, to shady tactics that violate YouTube’s Terms of Service - and may even get your account banned!

Let’s break down what each of these mean in more detail, as well as go into YouTube’s terms of service to see what is and isn’t allowed.

# Outsourcing the production of YouTube videos

# What is it?

Generally this involves paying an agency or freelancer to take over video production for you.

You are then responsible for uploading, managing the channel, and marketing it - though some agencies will help with this too. The key idea here is that you are the channel owner, but you give the hard work to someone else. You might say your channel has been "put on auto-pilot", but, strictly speaking, automation is a misnomer here.

A more accurate term for this would be "YouTube outsourcing". However, these service providers often use automated tools and paid audiences to boost engagement, which leads to the outsourcing and automation components of their service becoming conflated.

# Does YouTube allow this?

Outsourcing is no problem at all, and is an established part of the YouTube ecosystem which YouTube accepts (and even encourages) if it improves production quality.

The same is not true of automating engagement - see below.

YouTube’s terms of service doesn’t discuss outsourcing but it does discuss copyright. Please ensure you own the necessary intellectual property, not the agency, when posting your videos.

It can certainly happen that contractors in the service sector later claim some intellectual property when a project goes on to be successful. Stipulate your IP and copyright clearly in your contract.

# How do I do this?

If you have the money, it’s not hard to find YouTube agencies. Be warned though - agencies selling fake engagement brings risks, not guaranteed rewards, as we’ll discuss below.

https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+production+agencies (opens new window)

# Automating YouTube engagement

# What is it?

Using bots, or fake audiences of real people, to create the false impression of a channel or video’s popularity.

Some might also include data-scraping in this category, but we would argue the intent is quite different, and it has been treated differently by the American courts (see below).

# Does YouTube allow this?

In a word, ‘no’.

Activities like:

  • Fake engagement
  • Fake likes/dislikes
  • Generally using bots to perform activities humans are not doing

Will always violate TOS and YouTube will steps will be taken to remove them. YouTube’s algorithms can retrospectively remove engagement generated by bots, even if it seems successful at first.

https://www.youtube.com/static?gl=GB&template=terms (opens new window)

YouTube’s current TOS stipulate use of no automated software, unless their request has been approved in writing:

  • .access the Service using any automated means (such as robots, botnets or scrapers) except: (a) in the case of public search engines, in accordance with YouTube’s robots.txt file; (b) with YouTube’s prior written permission; or (c) as permitted by applicable law;

However, depending on the activity and intent, we think prohibiting any kind of automation software is both impractical and seemingly legally unenforceable - as you’ll see in the next section.

Of course, if your activity and intent is to dishonestly distort engagement, their TOS are quite clear:

  • ….cause or encourage any inaccurate measurements of genuine user engagement with the Service, including by paying people or providing them with incentives to increase a video’s views, likes, or dislikes, or to increase a channel’s subscribers, or otherwise manipulate metrics;

If you’re doing something more honest - like scraping public data, or automating repetitive work, our experience is that YouTube does not block this, provided you are doing it on the scale of saving a human’s time. i.e:

  • ❌ Build a ‘botnet’ of 50 bots to fake an activity humans are not doing.
  • ✅ Use 1 bot to save 1 person from repetitive work.

YouTube’s previous TOS used to explicitly allow this, but they’ve become more conservative as of 2022 - we'll discuss this further later on.

# How do I do this?

Although it's possible to do this with bot tools like Axiom, we do not recommend it, and if you do it at any scale we will be forced to stop it.

But If you want to automate repetitive admin work a human is already doing - read on, we're happy to help.

This brings us to our final type of YouTube automation.

# Automating YouTube channel management

# What is it?

Automating the administrative functions of a channel. This could include:

  • Scraping data
  • Automating admin - data reports and content uploads

# Does YouTube allow this?

Technically 'no', but practically 'yes'.

Their TOS stipulate you need to write for explicit permission to automate. This isn't practically possible, as Google famously have near-zero customer support.

Empirically, we've observed YouTube and other platform businesses, do not block automations that help with administrative work for content creators.

Scraping Data

Some activities data-scraping have been ruled explicitly acceptable by the US courts, even if the terms of service restrict it - a TOS can’t stipulate whatever it likes!

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zacharysmith/2022/04/18/scraping-data-from-linkedin-profiles-is-legal-appeals-court-rules/?sh=5176263b2a9c (opens new window)

Essentially, if you’re scraping and operating on public data that search engines can index, scraping this is fine. After all, a scraper is really just a search-crawler for private use!

Automating admin - reports and uploads

YouTube’s prior TOS, used to permit bots that operated at the speed of humans:

https://tldrlegal.com/license/youtube-terms-of-service (opens new window)

  • You agree not to use or launch any automated system, including without limitation, "robots," "spiders," or "offline readers," that accesses the Service in a manner that sends more request messages to the YouTube servers in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce

As you saw previously, the current TOS stipulates if you want to do this, you have to e-mail them your request in writing.

To stay 100% within the letter of their TOS, you should email them before automating... Of course, Google's support are not known for being easy to contact 😏

To save time, our simple advice is; if you’re automating ‘honest work’ a human is already doing, there are no issues. We have many customers who run such automations with no problem.

YouTube’s problem is really with the previous case of faking engagement - not administrative work. If anything, tech companies like tools that make it easier to produce quality content on their platform.

# How do I do this?

Axiom is great for this!

Scraping Data

Axiom works well as a general data-scraper, and performs well on YouTube and YouTube studio.

If you’re scraping the frontend of YouTube, our main tip is to scrape with the video paused. Youtube takes a little while to load and start the video, and Axiom will wait patiently until that process has finished before it starts scraping.

A cool tip for automatically pausing the video is to set a time beyond the video start, by appending &t=999999s at the end of the URL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2-TpQBgYcg&t=999999s

We have plenty of web-scraping tips to get you started here:

https://docs.axiom.ai/blog/5-problems-webscrapers

Automating admin - reports

Most reports are generated from YouTube studio data.

To scrape this data and generate a report in Google Sheets (that can be used to make slideshows), follow these steps:

  1. Click on "Advanced mode" in YouTube studio.
  2. Setup filters so the page you are viewing has the data you need
  3. Use axiom’s “Interact with a page’s interface” - copy the URL you are on, like this below, to the ‘go to URL’ step.
https://studio.youtube.com/video/g8dLUELGrIk/analytics/tab-interest_viewers/period-default/explore?entity_type=VIDEO&entity_id=g8dLUELGrIk&time_period=4_weeks&explore_type=TABLE_AND_CHART&metric=VIEWS&granularity=DAY&t_metrics=VIEWS&t_metrics=WATCH_TIME&t_metrics=SUBSCRIBERS_NET_CHANGE&t_metrics=TOTAL_ESTIMATED_EARNINGS&t_metrics=VIDEO_THUMBNAIL_IMPRESSIONS&t_metrics=VIDEO_THUMBNAIL_IMPRESSIONS_VTR&dimension=VIDEO&o_column=VIEWS&o_direction=ANALYTICS_ORDER_DIRECTION_DESC
  1. Scrape data from each URL using axiom’s "get data" step.

https://docs.axiom.ai/blog/how-to-automate-data-google-sheets

Start from blank - build a bot to automate Instagram posting
  1. Add a ‘Write data to Google Sheet’ step to consolidate your scraped data into a Google sheet.

It’s possible to generate slides and more from these reports. Check out our guides here!

https://axiom.ai/blog/how-to-automate-data-google-sheets

Automating video uploads

This is also possible in axiom.

The steps are very similar to automating instagram posts, where we specify the posts we want to send in a spreadsheet:

https://axiom.ai/blog/automate-instagram-post

In this case though, you’ll need to download our Desktop application which will let you upload files from your local machine.

For each file you want to upload, input the path in your Google sheet, and pass this to axiom. Take a look at the following resources for more info on Google sheets and using our Desktop app!

https://axiom.ai/docs/using-google-sheets

https://axiom.ai/faq/does-axiom-come-with-a-desktop-app

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