9th April 2020

POV: YouTube ‘Shorts’

Background:

YouTube is working on a short form video feature called ‘Shorts’ to be released later this year according to a report by The Information.

Details and Implications:

YouTube, the video streaming platform, is reportedly working on its own bite-sized video feature that will be similar to the popular video-sharing app TikTok. The feature is believed to be called ‘Shorts’ and will be a feed of short-form videos posted by users inside its app, according to The Information. Its existing catalogue of licensed music and songs will be available for users, as will tools to help users create videos. This is a huge benefit for YouTube as its extensive music licensing arrangements could broaden the options for content on ‘Shorts’.

Social media platforms are known for replicating innovations from different services. YouTube previously created a feature that resembled Instagram stories in 2018 which was successful for many creators, increasing their average subscriber count by 8% over those that didn’t use the feature.

TikTok, the short-form video platform, operates by letting people choose from a selection of audio and music to create videos. This platform has become increasingly popular with 842 million first time downloads in the last 12 months. TikTok is still relatively small in comparison to YouTube, which has 2 billion users each month. YouTube is currently the leading platform for longer form video content sharing.

YouTube would be able monetise the ‘Shorts’ feature immediately by using its existing advertising options, one of the reasons that many influencers use the platform for their content.

If the service is easily monetised for content creators, the associated revenue from that advertising could in turn fund a high-quality content boom in short video, which would attract more viewers – an attractive flywheel for all concerned.

Plus, as many people already use YouTube, staying on the same platform to view this short-form type content could be convenient for many users. TikTok is yet to offer a way to monetise videos directly for content creators and its ad offering is still in development.

YouTube is not the only platform to try and enter this space. Facebook has been testing its own version of a short-form video platform called Lasso in markets like Brazil.

Summary:

Whether YouTube ‘Shorts’ will be popular enough to rival TikTok is yet to be determined. However, the platform’s music licensing catalogue and the potential to monetise the feature immediately from launch for content creators may help. It will be interesting to see how it develops and if this results in TikTok accelerating its ad offering and shifting towards monetisation system development.

Further Reading:

The Information | Social Media Today | The Verge | Tech Radar

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