An Overview of YouTube Shorts: How Brands and Advertisers Can Maximise Success

By Yasmeen Doogue-Khan - 3 August, 2022
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If you’re not already, it’s time to start taking advantage of YouTube Shorts - Google’s answer to TikTok’s short-form video format. Since May 24th, Video Action and App campaigns have been automatically scaling to YouTube Shorts, enabling advertisers to expand their reach to the short-form video space.

Although in the early days of testing, it’s crucial that online retailers start optimising their YouTube video content to boost their chances of ads appearing here and to ensure these ads are built to engage users in this space. Google has ambitious plans for Shorts and it’s expected to keep growing: Google announcing that, towards the end of the year, these ads are going to become more shoppable - with advertisers able to connect product feeds to these campaigns.

Background of YouTube Shorts

YouTube launched Shorts back in 2020, a move designed to compete with TikTok, the platform which landed its billionth user last year and is renowned as a powerhouse in the short-form video space. TikTok’s incredibly fast growth has proved a real threat to digital giants Facebook and Google, with the platform landing its billionth user in half the time taken by Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.

TikTok’s rise has highlighted the potential of short-form video content and Google is investing in this space in order to compete. YouTube Shorts has been growing over the last few years, but brands have had little opportunity to advertise here, with Google only starting to experiment with ads in October and only now opening up the platform reach across Video Action and App campaigns.

The Growth of YouTube Shorts

According to YouTube, Shorts now gets 30 billion views per day, which is four times more than last year. Its popularity has increased significantly since launch, so what’s facilitated this growth?

In 2021, YouTube announced its $100 million YouTube Shorts Fund, a scheme set up to reward original creator content. Depending on video viewership and engagement, every month creators are able to claim a payment from the fund, with minimum payment set to $100. In order to qualify, content has to be completely original which means creators aren’t able to simply re-upload videos they’ve created on TikTok. And YouTube is insistent on these particular guidelines - using a combination of automation and human reviewers to thoroughly monitor and make sure content is completely original.

By incentivising content creation, and insisting on original content, YouTube has been able to quickly scale creator activity and in turn scale the platform as a competitor to TikTok.

As it introduces ads to the platform, YouTube has a significant advantage over TikTok: able to benefit from its historical suite of marketing tools which it can harness for automation, performance, and insights. Shorts is a force to be reckoned with and an exciting opportunity for online retailers as the platform continues to grow.

How Should Brands Use Video?

There’s no doubt that, over the last few years, video has become crucial to the majority of online retailers when it comes to ecommerce and digital marketing strategies. Brands should take into consideration core trends in order to keep up in this space.

  • Firstly, the world is now mobile-first and mobile optimisation is therefore key. Websites and content need to be mobile-friendly in order to ensure a slick user-experience and keep audiences engaged.

  • Secondly, short videos have taken over - entering the mainstream through Vine in 2012 and growing exponentially since TikTok’s entrance in 2016, with other platforms jumping on the trend (Instagram Reels, Pinterest Watch tab, Snapchat Spotlight, YouTube Shorts).

  • Thirdly, an appetite for live streaming has come out of the pandemic, with a desire to connect leading to an emergence of immersive experiences designed to engage with people in real-time where physical distance kept people apart.

YouTube Shorts taps into all of these emerging trends and is a great opportunity for advertisers wanting to engage a new audience and acquire new customers.

How Advertisers Can Start Using YouTube Shorts

If you’re an advertiser interested in YouTube Shorts, you can start showing your content on the platform now. In order to do this, you’ll need to create a Video Action or App Campaign within Google Ads as these are now automatically upgrading to YouTube Shorts.

There are few things to bear in mind when it comes to content creation:

  • Length - make sure your video is between 10-60 seconds long - this differs from TikTok where videos can be as long as three minutes.

  • Size - create your videos with an aspect ratio of 9:16 to ensure a vertical sizing for mobile devices. You might get away with creating a square video but opt for vertical if you want to avoid the unattractive bars at the top and bottom of the frame. Anything wider than a square won’t show on Shorts.

  • Special Features - take advantage of YouTube’s editing features to make your content more engaging. These include: speed manipulation (slowing down/speeding up), effects (filters, lighting, green screen), captions, sounds (browse trending songs, genres, or use the search bar).

  • User Generated Content - as ads are new to Shorts, try to make your content as UGC-styled as possible so that it blends in with the platform

In Conclusion

So what are the key takeaways when considering YouTube Shorts?

  • It’s time advertisers engaged in short-form content. TikTok’s rise has highlighted the success of this type of content.

  • YouTube Shorts is getting big and advertisers should start taking advantage of this space - the platform now receives 30 billion views per day, which is four times more than last year.

  • Successful ads need to be crafted with UGC in mind, in order to blend in with the platform and keep users engaged.

If you need any help with your YouTube campaigns and want to discuss your strategy with our team, feel free to get in touch at [email protected]

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