January 24

Mr. Beast Says Ad Revenue From X Is A ‘Facade’

Finance, Social Media, Twitter

Mr. Beast recently ran an "experiment" of sorts to tests claims about ad revenue from X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. An Internet sensation and YouTuber megastar, Mr. Beast first uploaded directly to the platform as a rebuttal to X owner Elon Musk's personal messages. 

Now the results are in, and Mr. Beast has some thoughts.

Who Is Mr. Beast?

Mr. Beast's real name is James Donaldson. With more than 230 million subscribers on YouTube, he is the second-most subscribed channel after Indian record label and production house T-Series.

At only 25 years old, Donaldson is one of the most financially successful content creators in the world. His net worth is estimated at $500 million, and the social media star is just getting started. Donaldson is reportedly eyeing a $100 million TV deal with Amazon.

Donaldson posted his first YouTube content at only age 13. By his latter teenage years, he was rapidly growing in popularity thanks to random, often silly stunts like watching paint dry and attempting to count to 100,000 without stopping. But along with his various content ideas, Donaldson also became known as one of the most philanthropic YouTubers, routinely giving away large sums of money and gifts to his followers. 

Though his stunts have escalated greatly in scope — with many of them costing "millions" in overhead, according to Donaldson — the Internet star has remained true to his nature by routinely making content from his gamified generosity. 

How Did The Conversation About Ad Revenue From X Start?

At the beginning of the year, Musk publicly Tweeted (X'd? Whatever) that Donaldson should directly upload video content to X. Donaldson responded that the ad revenue from X wouldn't even cover a "fraction" of the overhead to make the video. 

Then, a few weeks later, Donaldson decided to run an experiment. He directly uploading a video to X that he had previously uploaded to YouTube four months prior, titled "$1 vs $100,000,000 Car!" On YouTube, the video accumulated more than 216 million views and nearly 6 million likes.

It's impossible to know exactly how much money that video has earned him so far (unless you, you know, have access to his YouTube Studio account). But the video is nearly 20 minutes long, and Mr. Beast likely earned a high CPM (amount of money per one thousand views) on this video due to its niche (cars) and the time it was posted (Q4 2023, aka holiday season, aka lots of companies spending ad dollars). 

So, if we make a conservative estimate of a $10 CPM for Mr. Beast on that YouTube video, than we estimate he has made around $2 million from that video (after YouTube's cut) so far. 

So How Much Money Did Mr. Beast's Video On X Earn?

Mr. Beast revealed that the video directly uploaded to X earned $263,000 in its first week from nearly 157 million ad impressions. That rounds out to about $1.68 per 1,000 impressions — a fraction of what he would make on YouTube. 

But considering more than one third of 1.6 million people expected him to make $10,000 from 124 million views, it's clearly a lot more than many people expected. 

But Donaldson ultimately called the money and experiment a bit of a "facade." In a follow-up post, Donaldson said, "My first X video made over $250,000! But it's a bit of a facade. Advertisers saw the attention it was getting and bought ads on my video (I think) and thus my revenue per view is prob [sic] higher than what you'd experience." 

Undoubtedly — even though the content wasn't new, it was a highly publicized event and a chance for arguably the biggest content creator in the world to directly test Musk's claims. It's unlikely even Mr. Beast would see as much traction on future uploads. 

For his part, Donaldson immediately decided to give away the money from X ads, posting that he'd randomly give $25,000 to 10 users who followed him and replied to the post. Classic Mr. Beast stuff. 

Important Things To Note About Ad Revenue From X

So let's look at some of the key caveats here. First, Mr. Beast's content is essentially fully produced episodes of television. Anybody who has checked out his channel knows that a lot of his content is indiscernible from the type of stuff you might see on TruTV. It's incredibly well produced and many uploads even run the typical length of a 30-minute show (without ads, anyway). 

So, with that in mind, $1.68 CPM from X ads is really not great. If that's how much a nearly 20-minute video earned, imagine how much the CPM might be for say, a 90-second short that somebody would also upload to TikTok. 

But it's not just direct video and content uploads that earn money. X users can also get paid simply for Tweet impressions. That rate is staggeringly low, though. According to a TechCrunch article, one creator with 230,000 followers said she got paid $7,153 for 840 million impressions throughout 6 months — which boils down to less than 1 cent per 1,000 impressions.  

Oh, and not for nothing, in order to earn revenue from ads, you have to be an X verified user. Which means you have to have X premium. Which means you, you know, pay at least $8 per month

So Can You Make Money From X In A Meaningful Way?

That depends. Ad share revenue from most platforms is more of a "nice bonus" than a serious form of income. There are definitely exceptions — YouTube, though erratic, can support creators full-time. Viral content uploaded to multiple platforms can generate serious cash over time (and millions and millions of views). 

And depending on where you're at in your content career, a few hundred or even a few thousand bucks in a month from viral content on TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube can be seriously meaningful. But for the average creator, it's simply going to be one piece of a larger revenue pie. And the ad revenue from X posts will certain only be a small bite of that overall piece.

Most content creators who command large audiences are much better served by focusing on monetizing their audience off the platform than trying to get the best CPM they can on ad share revenue. Still, in the creator economy, every cent counts. 


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