In less than two years, YouTube’s bid to consolidate a rival to TikTok in the short video format has crystallised in high levels of consumption. The platform recently reported that more than 1.5 billion people now watch one of these so-called Shorts each month, three quarters of the 2 billion registered users who visit the platform each month. This boom corresponds to the company’s significant financial incentives for creators to use and promote the format.
However, this success also brings with it a crucial challenge: as time spent on YouTube has shifted in part to shorter videos, advertising revenue has suffered, which is easier when longer content can be planned before the start, during the broadcast and at the end. With the shorter format it is difficult to introduce ads without degrading the viewing experience too much, something that the tech giant will have to adjust to. Already in May, it began rolling out worldwide the possibility of including direct response campaigns and app downloads.
Three quarters of the platform’s registered users watch a Short each month, less than two years after launching the format.
For the time being, the revenue generated by these campaigns will not be shared with the creators, for whom the $100 million fund launched last year remains in place while the company creates a stable monetisation solution for the format. Anyone invited to participate in the initiative can receive between $100 and $10,000 depending on the views and interactions their short videos generate.
The two main contenders in this war to capitalise on the attention for short-form video have been at cross-purposes in their strategy to occupy part of each other’s turf. If YouTube set out to emulate TikTok in September 2020, the Chinese platform has increased the length of user videos to 10 minutes. This is its third revision of the limit in recent times, in a progressive escalation that took it from 15 to 60 seconds and then to three minutes, with the intention of having content that precisely offers better opportunities for commercial monetisation.