YouTube may be held hostage by its own TikTok competitor, Shorts, as staffers are worried that the short-form content may cannibalise its long-term videos, which have been the key driver of views for almost two decades.
The Financial Times ($/£) reports that YouTube’s ad revenue may have improved recently, but has been in a downward slide year over 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 Shorts.
The short-form video content on YouTube is still relatively new, and the company is still figuring out how to reap more financial gains from Shorts. Longer, more traditional, YouTube videos show more ads per video, but with shorter clips steadily taking over our feeds, content creators are uploading fewer longer videos.
Damned if you do …
A few friends of mine who are modestly successful content creators on YouTube have said a few times that rather than film separate videos for their normal feed and then for their Shorts, they’d rather clip their videos and use that as Short content. Some YouTube creators are also uploading more Shorts than full-length videos, so reducing the amount of content that YouTube can slot ads into.
This creates a bit of a pickle for YouTube as the company simply can’t abandon Shorts, as it's become incredibly popular. This means the platform will have to find a way to make Shorts profitable or suffer continuous losses. It could possibly incentivise Shorts creators and offer ad spaces and sponsorships in the same way TikTok does, with an ad popping up every few minutes or so of scrolling.
It's unclear what direction YouTube will take to navigate the sticky situation, as a balance needs to be struck between long and short-form content.