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YouTube Launches TikTok Challenger “Shorts” Globally

After dominating longer-form video, YouTube turns to short-form

Video sharing monolith YouTube has waded into the TikTok vs Instagram vs Snapchat battle with its take on the short-form video format.

Titled YouTube Shorts, it's pretty much a direct replica of TikTok.

Chris Jaffe, VP of Product Management, YouTube

"Shorts is a new short-form video experience for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones."

Video length is limited to 60 seconds or less (for now).

Shorts can be made using tools such as a multi-segment camera to bring together multiple video clips. Creators can also record with music from a decent library of songs that will continue to grow, which will be essential should it wish to challenge TikTok seriously.

Shorts form half of YouTube's 2021 video assault as it works this year to exploit both short-form and live video.

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, February 2021

"At YouTube, we are building products to help creators benefit from two important trends: live video and short-form video.

More than 0.5 million channels livestreamed on YouTube for the first time in 2020, from artists performing in their living rooms to churches moving their services online. And videos in our new Shorts player are receiving 3.5 billion daily views.

We are looking forward to expanding Shorts to more countries this year."

Now available globally

Shorts was launched in India last September, two months after the ban of TikTok, expanded to the US in March 2021 and is in beta everywhere else.

The rollout has gone pretty well. Shorts now has 6.5 billion daily views, nearly double the amount it had at the end of 2020. The fact that Shorts is housed within YouTube means it has the scale to attract up to two billion eyeballs very quickly.

YouTube has also added a Shorts tab to the navigation bar in the YouTube app, which will help direct audiences towards its short-form video. To make room, it has moved the Explore button to the top left of the screen.

Brands and marketers should pay attention

Brands and marketers who use YouTube should start thinking about how to factor Shorts into things. When folks subscribe to Shorts, they subscribe to a creators' main YouTube channel so they'll see any longer-form content you produce.

Something that should go some way in helping marketing and comms teams in finally building audiences within YouTube.

The rapid growth of Shorts indicates that YouTube isn't going to back down from their shiny new toy any time soon, so get ahead of the curve to reap the maximum reward. And while Shorts aren't monetised just yet, you can bet your house that they will be in the future.

For comparison, TikTok has been ad-supported for some time, and Instagram just rolled out ads within Reels globally.

Reels Ads will now loop and can be up to 30 seconds in length. Users will be able to comment, view, save, like and share Reels ads, and ads will appear across:

  • Reels tabs
  • Reels in Stories
  • Reels in feed
  • Reels in Explore

Basically, everywhere people are discovering Instagram's short-form video, ads can be placed. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that YouTube will follow suit in due course.

Similar creation and discovery processes

Creators can make Shorts by heading to the YouTube app and clicking on the create tab. Once you click here, go to 'create a short'.

From here, you can record video and upload media. You can also add music from 250 publishers to your video – but content with third-party music can only be 15 seconds long to avoid copyright issues.

You can also use audio from other YouTube videos in Shorts, and creators can take inspiration from other popular Shorts as the Add Music tab highlights the most used songs across Shorts.

Likewise, from a discovery perspective, you may have recently seen a row on the YouTube homepage, especially for short videos. YouTube has also introduced a new watch experience that lets you quickly swipe vertically from one video to the next, plus discover other similar short videos.

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