YouTube tries to compete with TikTok via “shorts”

YouTube is giving more creators more money-making opportunities in an apparent attempt to compete with TikTok.

The Google-owned company announced at the ‘Made on YouTube’ event on Tuesday that it was lowering the bar for creators to make money on the platform by introducing revenue sharing with Shorts, its streaming service. TikTok-like video sharing where videos can be up to 60 seconds long. YouTube said it plans to give creators of shorts 45% of revenue generated from ads served between videos, starting in early 2023.

“Short video is clearly a very popular format. So it feels like every platform is moving in the same direction,” says Mark Bergen, author of Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube’s Chaotic Rise to World Domination.

Youtube would have first announced the changes internally at a general staff meeting on September 15, with Vice President of Product and Creator Product Management Amjad Hanif citing the development as “the biggest expansion” that the YouTube’s monetization program has suffered for several years. Tech industry experts say the move seems to indicate that YouTube is scrambling to retain creators as Chinese-owned TikTok is rapidly gaining popularity.

For its part, YouTube says a monetization option for short form content has always been part of its long-term plan. “The announcements we made today are the first of their kind and establish a new model of due and critical compensation for creators of short and mobile videos,” a YouTube spokesperson said. “It’s a huge area of ​​investment for us, and we’re excited to see how it helps the community thrive and grow.”

Read more: Why so many YouTube and TikTok stars want to sell you a shirt (and maybe a burger)

The battle against TikTok

With over two billion monthly active users, YouTube is by far the most successful online streaming platform. But the popularity of TikTok is becoming increasingly evident. TikTok’s average monthly active user count rose 234% in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2019, while YouTube’s rose just 29%, according to data from the platform. measurement of Sensor Tower applications.

“What TikTok has done is kind of take YouTube’s recommender system and Facebook’s feed features that have been criticized for prioritizing engagement and addiction, and bundle it all into one service. really compelling,” says Bergen.

TikTok has also gained a foothold among Gen Z users. Pew Research Survey published in August revealed that while YouTube is still the most popular social media platform among American teens, TikTok is steadily gaining ground. The survey showed that 95% of American teens use YouTube and 19% are on the platform “almost constantly”, compared to 67% who use TikTok and 16% who use it “almost constantly”.

Instagram and Snapchat are next in the rankings, with 62% and 59% of teens, respectively, saying they use the platforms.

“TikTok is the platform of choice for young people,” says Margaret O’Mara, a technology industry historian. “And that’s the growth market that all of these platforms have been chasing.”

YouTube’s strategy echoes recent updates Meta, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, has made to its platforms to compete with TikTok. Since the introduction of Reels in 2020, Instagram has touted the shortened video feature as its answer to TikTok. But the company experienced a number of setbacks in the growth of the service. The Wall Street Log reported earlier this month that, according to Meta Internal Research, Instagram users cumulatively spend less than a tenth of the time per day on Reels than TikTok users spend on TikTok.

According to Log, this is partly because Instagram has struggled to recruit people to create content. This is the exact problem that YouTube seems to be trying to guard against.

Lowering the bar for creators to make money on the platform is an important move that reflects how the ecosystem of social media influencers has grown and changed, O’Mara says.

“Even ten years ago, everyone was different and YouTube could kind of act like an old Hollywood movie studio and have a stable of stars that it nurtured and showcased,” she says. “Now new creators who seem to get a lot of attention and a lot of traction very quickly are on TikTok. YouTube wants to attract this set of creators.”

What YouTube’s announcement means for creators

Previously, YouTube creators only made money if they had at least 1,000 subscribers and audiences watched at least 4,000 hours of their videos. Now, creators with 1,000 subscribers and 10 million views of shorts in 90 days can also profit from their content.

At Tuesday’s event, YouTube Vice President for the Americas Tara Walpert Levy said the company wants YouTube to be a “one-stop shop” for creators. “Our belief is that you should be able to make a living in any format,” she said.

TikTok introduced competition to YouTube in a way it never really did, Bergen says. “It’s forced YouTube to pay more attention and resources to creators like never before,” he says.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at [email protected]

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