YouTube Shorts is YouTube’s response to the rise in popularity of short-form video on platforms like TikTok. A YouTube short is a vertical video (a 9:16 aspect ratio) that takes up the entire mobile screen and can be up to 1 minute in length, offering a different kind of viewing experience for the platform’s users.
Part of the appeal of short-form video, particularly with younger audiences, is that it’s immediately satisfying to the viewer and they can go right into the next video to quickly get another satisfying moment. It has a stickiness factor.
Right now, there’s not a lot of competition with YouTube Shorts. Unlike with regular YouTube videos, where you’re competing with content that has been released since 2005, there’s not a lot of saturation in Shorts. So if you’re an early adopter, you’ll get more visibility.
Typically, when a new feature like Shorts comes out, YouTube does two things. They’ll put a lot of money behind it—investing in both R&D and paying creators to make content—and focus on getting distribution out. YouTube is going to push and promote Shorts because they want you to succeed. This makes Shorts a huge opportunity for both marketers and creators.
Shorts is currently a level playing field for eyeballs, although bigger creators will have the advantage of more insight into what an audience will respond to. To find success, you’ll need to publish consistently so you’ll need a programming or content strategy.
YouTube Shorts vs. YouTube Stories
While YouTube Stories and Shorts are both short-form videos, they work and are treated differently on the platform. With a YouTube story, you’re tapping to get to the end of the story, and then you’re still in the ecosystem of that specific creator—or you can go on to another creator. They’re shorter videos (up to 15 seconds) and there’s a progression to them. And they’re short-lived; they disappear after 7 days unless you save them.
Shorts are also short-form videos but there’s no progression to be completed and they stay on your channel forever (unless you delete them). So as with regular video, it’s possible over time that YouTube might start showing them to more people and they could potentially take off.
Monetization With YouTube Shorts
Is there money to be made with YouTube Shorts? Yes, but it’s a little complicated to explain. Basically, with Shorts, there’ll be views coming from outside of the short shelf and those will be monetized. However, based on the length of the video, you wouldn’t necessarily earn much.
When you upload a video to YouTube, whether it’s a short-form video or a regular video, it creates a video ID. With that video ID, you can get views on all of the different traffic sources—the YouTube home page, a subscription feed, a suggested video, and even external. One of the other options is the short shelf.
If the video gets picked up on the short shelf, you’re not going to get the monetization option to make a ton of money on it. You might get a lot of views, but where you make the money is where the ads will actually fire, and right now, that would be on the other traffic sources noted above. There’s not an integrated option that fires and gives credit to shorts creators in that unique way.
So for businesses, the strategy right now with Shorts is to get exposure and hopefully subscribers to your channel so people will see some of your content outside of the short shelf. Ultimately, though, YouTube will figure out how they can compensate creators because they know that’s important to their ecosystem.
Shorts is in beta. YouTube’s short-form video creation tools are available in India and U.S.