Is Instagram Bigger than YouTube?

Home > Blog > Is Instagram Bigger than YouTube?
Is Instagram Bigger than YouTube?

Feb 26, 2020

Our seventh minisode of the third season of the “The Creative Influencer” podcast is available today for download on iTunes, Spotify, and premier platforms everywhere.  In minisodes, we answer questions that our listeners have emailed Jon.  In this minisode, Jon answers a question about who makes more: YouTube Creators or Instagram Influencers?


A transcript of the episode follows:

This week’s minisode is an email from Jenny.

Hey Jon,
I heard that Instagram makes more money than YouTube from Advertisements. Is this true? Does that mean that Instagram influencers make more money than YouTube stars?

Hi Jenny,

You heard correctly. Instagram made headlines recently when it was revealed in a Bloomberg news report that the app brought in about 20 billion dollars in advertising revenue last year. That beats YouTube, which sold $15.1 billion in ads last year.

The numbers on Instagram have not been confirmed by Facebook, the owner of Instagram. And the YouTube numbers were revealed for the first time by Alphabet Inc. this January. Alphabet is the parent company of Google and YouTube.

A key difference between the two platforms is that YouTube shares ad revenue with creators who run ads before their posted videos. In fact, YouTube gives about 55% of ad revenues to creators. This means $8.3 billion of the $15.1 billion went to YouTube creators. A pretty good deal for both sides.

Unlike YouTube, Instagram doesn’t share any of the ad revenue with influencers.  Instagram ads are interspersed with regular posts on the app’s main feed and in stories. The regular posts that these ads appear in between don’t receive any money. That means all $20 billion in ad revenue went straight to Facebook via Instagram. That’s incredible when you think about it, since Facebook purchased Instagram for a “mere” (and I put that in airquotes) $1 billion eight years ago.

So, all of the money that many of my clients make on Instagram comes directly from brands collaborating with them, not through Instagram.

Jenny, thanks for the e-mail and keep scrolling through your feed. Instagram needs the money... Not!

The Creative Influencer is a bi-weekly podcast where we discuss all things creative with an emphasis on Influencers. It is hosted by Jon Pfeiffer, an entertainment attorney in Santa Monica, California.  Jon interviews influencers, creatives and the professionals who work with them.

Sign Up for Pfeiffer Law's Monthly Newsletter

Contact Jon and his team today.