YouTube may be held hostage by its own TikTok competitor, Shorts, as staffers fear short-form content could cannibalize its long-form videos, which have been the primary viewer engine for nearly two decades.
The Financial Times ($/£) reports YouTube’s ad revenue may have improved recently, but has been in a downward slide year after year for three consecutive quarters. A few years ago many social video platforms were concerned about the rapid rise of TikTok, leading YouTube to introduce the Shorts.
Short-form video content on YouTube is still relatively new, and the company is still figuring out how to get more financial gains from Shorts. Longer, traditional YouTube videos show more ads per video, but with shorter clips consistently taking over our feeds, content creators upload fewer longer videos.
Be damned if you do…
Some friends of mine who are modestly successful content creators on YouTube have said a few times that instead of filming separate videos for their regular feed and then their Shorts, they prefer to crop their videos and use them as Shorts content. Some YouTube creators also upload more Shorts than full videos, thus reducing the amount of content YouTube can place ads on.
This creates a bit of a problem for YouTube as the company simply can’t abandon Shorts, as it has become incredibly popular. This means that the platform will have to find a way to make Shorts profitable or suffer continual losses. It could incentivize Short’s creators and offer advertising space and sponsorships in the same way as TikTok, with an ad appearing every few minutes or so of scrolling.
It’s unclear what direction YouTube will take to address the predicament, as a balance needs to be struck between long-form and short-form content.