TikTok’s impact on the technology world, particularly in terms of sparking competition in ‘short videos’, continues to be fascinating. In India, that competition (aided by TikTok’s ban there) includes a cluster of local apps like Moj and MX TakaTak that are growing fast. Globally, meanwhile, the biggest platforms are rolling out their own TikTok-style features, from YouTube’s ‘Shorts’ to Instagram’s ‘Reels’.
Two stories today offer a snapshot of how these services are evolving. First, TikTok’s apparent test of a feature that will enable creators to pay to promote their videos on its app’s ‘For You Page’. That’s a big deal: the art and science of trying to parachute clips into TikTok’s personalised feed has long been a primary goal of its creators.
The test is for a feature that enables them to spend TikTok’s in-app ‘coins’ currency to promote individual videos. Tubefilter explains how the feature was unearthed by a TikTok marketing expert called WaveWyld. “ In the video example shared by WaveWyld, a creator spends 400 Coins — or roughly $6.15 — daily over the course of two days, which translates to an amplification of roughly 11,575 video views,” it reported.
TikTok confirmed that the feature is being tested. If it rolls out more widely, it could certainly be useful for artists on the platform. It could also be a huge boost for TikTok’s non-advertising revenues. Even without this new feature, analytics firm Sensor Tower estimates that TikTok was the top grossing app globally in the first quarter of this year – in rankings based entirely on purchases, and not including advertising.
Another trend in short video is the need to juice the creator economies with payouts. TikTok had its ‘creator fund’; Snapchat paid out $1m a day to people whose videos took off in its Spotlight feed; and now YouTube is launching a fund to encourage people to use its ‘Shorts’ feature.
The YouTube Shorts Fund will pay out $100m by the end of 2022. “Each month, we’ll reach out to thousands of creators whose Shorts received the most engagement and views to reward them for their contributions,” revealed YouTube in a blog post. The fund isn’t live yet: it will launch “in the coming months”, and will be open to anyone creating original shorts – even if they’re not in YouTube’s existing partner program.
“The Shorts Fund is the first step in our journey to build a monetization model for Shorts on YouTube. This is a top priority for us, and will take us some time to get it right,” said YouTube. This is going to be one of the most important battles in the short-video sector: dangling funds to get creators using these platforms and features initially, but then developing the tools to ensure they can make money themselves in the longer term.
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