The original video-sharing site finally jumped on the latest video-sharing trend with Monday’s introduction of YouTube Shorts, which lets people create videos of up to 15 seconds, complete with music.
If that sounds familiar, it should, since TikTok was built on 15-second videos with music, and Facebook “borrowed” the concept with its rollout of Instagram Reels in August.
Ricky Ray Butler, CEO of Branded Entertainment Network—which uses artificial intelligence to provide product placement across platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Twitch and YouTube—was bullish on the new feature’s prospects.
“YouTube Shorts is the biggest threat to TikTok to date, and creators are curious,” Butler said in an email. “YouTube’s mastery at discovery, viral potential and monetization sets Shorts far apart from experiences like Instagram Reels and makes it a worthy challenger to take on—and steal market share from—TikTok.”
YouTube vice president of product management Chris Jaffe said in a blog post Monday, “User-generated short videos were born on YouTube starting with our first upload, a short 18-second video called ‘Me at the Zoo.’ As technology advances, creators and artists can now take advantage of the incredible power of smartphones to easily create and publish high-quality content wherever they are in the world. And people can be entertained and informed by bite-sized content in the spare minutes of the day.”
YouTube did not address whether brands will be able to advertise via YouTube Shorts, but should that occur, Samantha Stockman, group director at full-service agency The Media Kitchen, had some thoughts.
“Assuming the user base grows quickly, if advertisers are able to tap into Google’s data and bundle buys on Shorts with other YouTube buys in a larger strategy, it would be a low-risk testing opportunity,” she said in an email.
The feature will debut as a beta test in India over the next few days. Jaffe stressed that this is an early version, with features and countries to be added over the coming months.
He added that the foundation of YouTube Shorts is based on three main areas: create, get discovered and watch.
“Creation is at the core of short-form video,” Jaffe wrote, and tools that are part of the beta test include a multisegment camera that enables users to string multiple video clips together, the option to record with music from a library of songs that will be expanded, speed controls and a timer and countdown.
Android users in India will see the create icon in a prominent new spot in the application, with other countries and iOS to be added soon.
“Shorts also has a massive edge when it comes to monetization,” Butler pointed out. “YouTube has already implemented these features at scale and can directly translate capabilities to Shorts. While TikTok has a Creator Fund, it will be tough to compete with the amount of money creators can make on YouTube.”
On the discovery front, Jaffe pointed out that over 2 billion people visit YouTube monthly and encouraged mobile creators or artists with access to YouTube Shorts to begin uploading videos to the Google-owned video site.
“The reality is that while ByteDance will sell the TikTok brand, it will never sell its algorithm,” Butler said. “These powerful algorithms are the one thing that truly differentiates TikTok and where Shorts will have a clear advantage. YouTube is renowned for its sophisticated algorithms and is one of the largest search engines to date.”
And on the watch front, YouTube recently added a row dedicated to short videos to its homepage, and a new watch experience rolled out Monday that enables people to swipe vertically from one video to the next as well as discover similar short videos.