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YouTube debuts short-form content "Shorts" to compete with TikTok

YouTube wants to repeat TikTok’s success

YouTube debuts short-form content "Shorts" to compete with TikTok
YouTube Shorts// Illustration by Kate Walker

YouTube wants to repeat TikTok’s success

YouTube is pumping money and attention into its short-form feature, Shorts, in a bid to compete with TikTok. Creators are adjusting their strategies to capitalize on the Shorts growth… sometimes to the detriment of longer-lasting success. But the shift to Shorts may prove something even more sobering to creators: at the end of the day, the platforms will do what’s best for their place in the market; creators may have no choice but to adapt.

For us
YouTube is jealous of TikTok’s attention span.

  • Cloning TikTok, YouTube debuted its 60-second-long “Shorts” feature earlier this year and launched a $100 million fund to entice creators to make content for it.
  • As an added benefit, YouTube is reportedly prioritizing Shorts on its mobile app to drive engagement.

The clear push from YouTube is making an impression on creators. Many say that they’ve already jumped on the Shorts bandwagon or are currently rethinking their YouTube strategy. And creators who have made the switch report increased subscribers and monthly revenue spikes.

But some are worried that the move to Shorts will hurt them in the long run. Many YouTubers make the bulk of their earnings from ad placements, which longer videos provide more opportunity for.

The short of it
Nonetheless, YouTube’s Shorts gambit is working: this year, Shorts made by influencers clocked a 64% increase in engagement within 30 days while long-form video growth plateaued, according to measurement firm Tubular Labs. Videos that are five to ten minutes long rose by 11%, while those around fifteen to twenty minutes rose only 5%.

What YouTube may really want to capture is the sense of interconnectivity that TikTok provides (i.e., someone does a dance, and people quickly copy that dance and create the videos directly on the platform). The Information calls that the “piggybacking.” No wonder TikTok has skyrocketed to a billion monthly active users.

Now, the true test will be if YouTube can tamp down on Shorts just being TikTok recycles.