As the leading short-form video app, TikTok has changed the game for vertical video content. Every major social app is racing to fill the consumer demand for short-form video—scrollable, quick, video content that captivates short-attention span audiences like Gen Z.
The race for top social apps to develop a short-form video feature may be reminiscent of the mass-incorporation of the “Stories” format that took place across major social apps from 2016-2017. Both trends speak loudly to the power of social video and the future of mobile video. Currently, 75% of video plays worldwide are on mobile devices. Exploring short-form video allows marketers the opportunity to increase brand visibility and improve their overall video marketing strategy.
In September 2020, YouTube announced its short-form video offering and TikTok competitor, YouTube Shorts. YouTube released its Shorts feature in India before rolling it out to the U.S. and 26 other countries in March 2021. The feature exists through a dedicated “Shorts” tab on the mobile YouTube app (viewing is not yet optimized for desktop).
As the short-form video platform landscape continues to evolve, and competition continues to build, it is difficult to predict which platform will rise above the rest.
Here are nine YouTube Shorts statistics marketers need to know:
YouTube is the second most-visited website and the second most-used search engine in the world following Google. For marketers, the introduction of YouTube Shorts provides the opportunity to tap into YouTube’s engaged audience through short-form video. Marketers do not have to commit or invest in an expensive long-form content strategy and instead can explore YouTube Shorts as a medium to reach new audiences.
At the end of 2020 and prior to U.S. launch, YouTube Shorts daily viewership was around 3.5 billion views. By March 2021, YouTube Shorts was released in the U.S. and 26 other countries and daily viewership grew nearly double to 6.5 billion daily views. In July 2021, YouTube Shorts became available in more than 100 countries worldwide and surpassed the 15 billion daily average views benchmark.
We are spending more time on our mobile phones than ever before. That’s why this next YouTube Shorts statistic comes as no big surprise. More than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices. The push for YouTube Shorts comes second to YouTube’s first vertical video offering—YouTube Stories.
YouTube Stories was launched in November 2017 and is currently only available to creators with over 10,000 subscribers. The Stories format allows users to post a 15-second clips that disappear after 7 days. In contrast, YouTube Shorts do not expire, and can be used by all users regardless of subscriber count.
Users have up to 60 seconds to capture video with YouTube Shorts. When YouTube Shorts was first released in 2020, the maximum time allowance was 15 seconds. Shortly after the U.S. release of YouTube Shorts, the video length allowance was upped to a maximum of 60 seconds. Data shows users are definitely utilizing the extra 45 second allowance.
Tubular Labs conducted a study of 1.1 million YouTube Shorts. Of the 1.1 million Shorts studied, 72% skewed longer—between 16 seconds and 60 seconds long. The same study revealed 25.6% of the Shorts came from India while 23.4% were uploaded in the United States.
Creators have many options when it comes to short-form video platforms: TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Snapchat Spotlight to name a few. To attract online creators, social apps are launching Creator Funds to reward creators who are creating engaging, viral content.
In May 2021, YouTube announced a $100 million YouTube Shorts Fund to be distributed through 2021 into 2022. YouTube reports it will choose from thousands of qualified creators and pay each creator anywhere from $100-$10,000 a month. In order to claim a payment from the fund, creators must meet Creator Fund criteria largely based on Shorts viewership and audience engagement.
YouTube has one of the most competitive Creator Funds in the short-form video space. For comparison, TikTok has a U.S. Creator Fund to the tune of $200 million, and Snapchat Spotlight promised to pay its creators “$1 million a day” (a promise of about $200 million as they recently updated that figure to monthly payouts of “millions”). While there is currently not a Creator Fund for Instagram Reels, Facebook announced a $1 billion Creator Fund to help creators monetize on Facebook and Instagram by the end of 2022.
With the introduction of YouTube Shorts, If a person subscribers to a user’s Shorts, they are also subscribed to that user’s long-form content. Historically it is much easier to encourage followers to interact with different content formats within the same app, than it is to tell followers to interact with different content formats on different apps. For example, an influencer with a large following on TikTok, might struggle to transfer their audience to YouTube.
With the placement of YouTube Shorts as a section within YouTube, a subscriber can interact with a user’s short-form content just as easily as a user’s long-form content. This presents an opportunity for creators to leverage a short-form video content strategy into a long-form video content strategy or vice-versa. Creators who may have been struggling to grow their long-form channels, now have an alternative method to grow their subscriber base through Shorts without expending long-form content resources.
There are some caveats: while views from YouTube Shorts are contributed towards a user’s total channel views, Shorts views do not count towards YouTube’s Partner Program eligibility. Subscribers gained through Shorts do, however, count towards YouTube’s Partner Program criteria. Shorts are also presently exempt from collecting YouTube Premium revenue.
YouTube Shorts has a growing music library from over 250 music labels and publishers. YouTube also hosts a simple site link integration that allows users to extract and use the audio from any Short or long-form YouTube video. Copyright ownership and privacy settings on certain videos may prohibit users from using this feature. If a video allows remixes, a “create” button will appear underneath the video.
Users can click the “create” button to launch Shorts creation tools and begin filming content. This impressive “extract audio” feature helps to distinguish YouTube Shorts apart from competitors TikTok, Reels, and Triller.
With the launch of the Shorts Fund, there are now over ten different ways for creators to make money on YouTube: 1) YouTube Partner Program, 2) YouTube BrandConnect, 3) Super Chat, 4) Super Thanks, 5) Super Stickers, 6) merchandising, 7) events, 8) YouTube Premium, and 9) Channel Memberships. In addition to the $100 million Shorts Fund, YouTube promised a “longer-term monetization model” specifically for Shorts creators.
5-Minute Crafts FAMILY’s video of DIY soap in the shape of a foot takes the crown for the most-viewed YouTube Short. Posted on April 11, 2021, the 35-second clip has over 8,000,000 likes and 33,000 comments. The famed Short received 232 million views in its first month.