YouTube seeks to provide direct monetization for short films, a big shift in the battle for short content

Could this be a fatal blow for TikTok and its short video leadership?

It might seem like an extreme take, but YouTube, via YouTube Shorts, is stepping up its pitch for top short-lived creative talent, with The New York Times reporting that YouTube will soon add a new direct monetization option for short films, which would provide a clearer path for short-form content creators to earn money just for their clips.

According NYT:

“YouTube will bring ads to Shorts, according to meeting and two people familiar with the situation. The company plans to pay creators 45% of advertising money, according to one of the people. YouTube creators have traditionally received 55% of the money from ads shown before and during their videos. »

According to leaked internal audio, YouTube will also lower the barrier to entry of the YouTube Partner Programallowing more creators to earn money from YouTube ads.

Currently you need to reach 4,000 hours of total public viewing on your channel in the previous 12 months to be eligible for ads in your YouTube content, while you also need more than 1,000 subscribers to qualify for YPP.

These requirements likely don’t match up with Shorts, where total watch time will generally be much lower, while the reduced subscriber count would also open the door for earlier creators to build their presence in Shorts instead.

Combined, this could make YouTube Shorts a much more attractive prospect for short video creators. And when you also consider that Shorts content is now viewed by 1.5 billion YouTube users per month and has seen strong growth over the past year, the case for building on YouTube and the profitability of your content would be clearly enhanced by this proposal. expansion.

YouTube also then offers what would effectively be graduated monetization. Monetizing short form content is difficult, but YouTube pays creators billions of dollars every year through its Partner Program for Regular Video Uploads, where pre- and mid-roll ads can be inserted into clips. longer.

This provides a direct link between content and associated advertising revenue, and if YouTube can attract more creators with an initial revenue share through Shorts, then this could see more of them also build their traditional YouTube channels and become big revenue by translating their Shorts fame into an expanded presence on YouTube.

But what would YouTube do? How can you attach specific ads to specific Shorts clips – because the clips themselves are, usually, only a few seconds long, so you can’t really ask people to sit down during a pre-roll of 30 seconds to watch a 15-second Shorts clip.

Right?

I suspect it has something to do with this:

In recent weeks, an increasing number of YouTube users have raised concerns on ad groups like this, where up to 10 non-skippable ads can be attached to a single video.

YouTube has replied to some of these complaints via Twitter, explaining that these “bumper” ads are only 6 seconds long at most – so while that may seem like a lot of individual ads, the actual play time for these groups of ads is not significant.

But what if YouTube added more of these ads in preparation for this upcoming change of shorts? What if people are seeing more of these “bumper” adgroups because YouTube has struggled to build its inventory of very short promotions, so they can then attach unique 5-second ads to specific short ads in its app?

Perhaps this solves the dilemma of direct monetization, as super short ads, tied to a specific video or creator, can actually see direct revenue allocated to that individual account as well.

This seems to be the direction YouTube is headed – which would be a valuable addition to the Shorts ecosystem, offering direct monetization potential to Shorts users.

But again, if that’s the route YouTube is going, and it looks promising, it will also open the door for TikTok and Meta (via Reels) to add the same.

In this case, it might not be a differentiator for long, but the fact remains that creators can make a lot more money on YouTube than they can in other apps.

As noted, YouTube has brought $28.8 billion in advertising revenue in 2021, about half of which will then be redirected to creators through the YPP’s revenue sharing program. TikTok, with its Creator Fund and other brand partnership options, falls far short of this potential, while Meta, which is able to offer advanced monetization on both Instagram and Facebook through longer videos and other offers, is still not about to touch it. potential income level for creators.

Offering alternative revenue avenue options, like brand sponsorships through “creator marketplace” tools, provides additional value. But on YouTube, creators can get paid just for creating content. No offers or individual brand endorsements required – right now, YouTube is clearly the best option for video creators looking to earn money specifically for their creative talent.

Shorts ads would complement that, while helping guide top stars to more lucrative career opportunities.

It may not be the death of TikTok as such, but history shows us that eventually people will follow the money.

Vine stars have left for more lucrative opportunities (many will become millionaires via YouTube), while big-name game streamers regularly move platforms for exclusive content deals, despite having established plenty of followings in any app.

These changes do not always take place. Popular streamer Ninja, for example, switched from Twitch to Microsoft-owned Mixer in 2019 in a deal worth up to $30 millionbut in the end, Ninja was unable to bring his fans to the Microsoft gaming platform, because various reasons.

Cases like this are likely why platforms are hesitant to overpay on exclusive deals and instead strive to build self-sustaining monetization ecosystems from the ground up to attract more creators.

But again, every innovation can be copied, which can make true differentiation difficult, other than offering expanded monetization potential in other ways.

YouTube is leading on this front, and it will be interesting to see how the direct monetization of shorts adds to that appeal.

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