The apologizers by controversy type
Normalized Rate of Sub Growth
Apology phrases per minute
Ratio of likes to dislikes
Cuts Per Minute
The Aftermath of a YouTube Apology
vlogpology (noun): when a famous YouTuber becomes embroiled in a controversy, makes headlines, and releases an apology video.
There have been plenty of articles dissecting this phenomenon, but maybe you glossed over them for a while like we did.
But when vlogpologies became Halloween costumes, we knew it was time to investigate.
YouTube video of the DIY Halloween costume.
But why YouTubers?
All sorts of celebrities have controversies that end with public apologies. But few have to shit where they eat — so to speak — like YouTubers. Plus, there’s data 🤓.
We researched nearly every possible popular YouTuber with a documented controversy in the past few years and found 34 with a vlogpology.
We analyzed about 20,000 popular accounts and cross-referenced with Wikipedia and Wikitubia to look for channels with controversy or apology details. We joined this with manual Google searches. From this list, we then manually vetted the results for false positives and reduced to channels with at least 90 days of subscriber data on both sides of the apology.
The most common controversy type was insensitive videos, like the notorious Logan Paul “suicide forest” video.
This was closely followed by vloggers like Laura Lee apologizing for racist comments they’ve made.
Some didn’t fit neatly into a box, as was the case with Jenna Marbles.
Here is everyone. We noticed that beauty YouTubers have a curiously large share of the shame pie.
Beauty vloggers dominated the headlines, so we’ll focus on these noteworthy nine YouTubers to breakdown what we found.
Step One To measure impact we can look at how their channel subscriptions grew, starting with their pre-controversy trajectory. Where were they headed?
We got the daily subscriber count data from subscribercounter.com and weekly subscriber count data from socialblade.com.
We compare their daily total subscribers to their pre-controversy max. As expected, nearly all channels were making gains.
1x = pre-controversy max. So nearly everyone’s max occured on their last day before their controversy since in general, subscriber counts go up.
Steeper lines means faster growth. Jake Paul (not a beauty vlogger) doubled his subscribers in the three months prior to his controversy.
Step Two What was the effect on their subscriber rate after they released their apology?
We go from relatively consistent growth to a range of reactions post-apology.
We ignored showing the period between the controversy and apology because it can be anywhere from a day to a year. However, since the 1x baseline calculation falls somewhere in that period, the post-apology starting point can vary dramatically.
Step Three To better understand the trends, we classified their growth as: fast, moderate, stable, or declining.
We used k-means clustering to classify the growth trends, then manually joined similar clusters to reduce them to accessible terms.
The shift was positive for some. For others it was negative.
Gabriel Zamora received a big boost by getting wrapped up in a feud with YouTube royalty Jeffree Star.
Whereas Laura Lee’s questionable and quickly removed vlogpology didn’t exactly help her audience development...
Subscriber growth comes in all flavors. Maybe some of that reflects how the apology was handled, regardless of the controversy? Let’s dissect the videos.
Here are some stats we found interesting about their vlogpologies.
We counted the frequency of words like “apologize”, “sorry” and “mistake” and divided that by the length of the video. The ratio of likes and dislikes was from the vlogpologies themselves. Ratio data was not available for all people. For cuts, we used a program to detect when the video changed drastically from one frame to the other in conjunction with some manual threshold setting.
Gabriel Zamora produced an authentic and heartfelt apology in a 40-minute, one-take video!
Another equally “successful” approach was Jeffree Star’s methodically planned and moderately apologetic video.
James Charles’ response to the takedown attempt by Tati had a similar fingerprint.
On the other hand, fans saw through the strategically planned video by Jaclyn Hill which was a defense of her new lipstick product.
And then there is Laura Lee’s apology. The dramatic rendition got such backlash that she had to take the video down.
Here is a YouTube playlist so you can go down the vlogpology rabbit hole yourself.
That’s all folks! Check out some recent stories from The Pudding.