April 3, 2020


“It is being reported by The Information that YouTube is looking to launch a short form video feature to rival TikTok before the end of the year.

Allegedly called ‘Shorts’, it is suggested that a feed will live inside the existing YouTube mobile app and enable creators to leverage YouTube’s already licensed music and songs.

If YouTube did provide a platform to challenge TikTok, it would be interesting for creators and publishers alike as it would be full of potential opportunities – but also challenges.

The Challenge

The challenge faced by YouTube will be in delivering native app experiences that make TikTok a success as these are not easily replicated across all platforms. TikTok’s in-app filming, production tools and filters, as well as its mobile first UX, enable creators to maximise TikTok quickly and effectively. TikTok is a super-shortform platform where creators are free to be themselves rather than a more polished version. In contrast, YouTube is more mature, with longer viewing times and often higher production values. In addition, the viral nature of hashtags that are ingrained in every piece of TikTok content shape and launch trends, creating both demand and supply, growing the platform ecosystem at pace. These could be big barriers to entry for any platform wanting in on this style of content.

The Opportunity

However, the opportunity YouTube could present is quite exciting. TikTok has its own challenges that YouTube is further along in solving, including well publicised discussions around brand safety and privacy issues.

The monetisation options and infrastructure is something YouTube excels at and provides a possible instant revenue and reach opportunity. YouTube also has an almost infinite list of great creators, who may not want to jump between platforms. Unlocking TikTok-esque content within their established community, fanbase and platform offers creators and publishers diversification, evolution and revenue.

The possible introduction of ‘Shorts’ would also attract a market currently dominated by TikTok as Gen Z favours short and ephemeral content which encourages and celebrates individualism. With background music, a key TikTok feature for dance challenges which are one of the most popular forms of content on the platform, YouTube’s bank of licensed music will likely attract this growing demographic.

At Brave Bison we spun up a dedicated TikTok team at the start of the year to create exclusive content across our brands, including VTRNDMutha and Canvas. Rather than focus on what has been achieved so far, let me share one video we’re really proud of. Not only does it highlight the native content opportunity of the platform, but in these unique times it supports and thanks one of the most important things in our society right now – #thankyounhs  (https://www.tiktok.com/@canvas_arts/video/6810410362064604422)”

– Ben Sinden, Managing Director of Publishing