YouTube is looking to give its TikTok rival, Shorts, a competitive edge. The company has confirmed that it is expanding a recent global test that by default the YouTube mobile app opens directly in Shorts if the user had previously watched Shorts videos before leaving. In other words, instead of being redirected to the YouTube homepage when you return to the app, you would be immersed in the abbreviated video experience.
The company said the test, which was announced publicly last week, is only running on iOS for a small percentage of global users. YouTube now says it’s gearing up to extend the experience to Android as well.
The test will only target users who interact with YouTube’s response to TikTok, known as Shorts. First launched over a year ago, initially in India, YouTube Shorts arrived in the United States in March and has since expanded to other global markets during 2021. The video platform abbreviated allows users to create a set of videos up to 60 seconds. to music, original audio, or “remixed” content from other YouTube videos, unless the creators have chosen not to reuse their content in Shorts.
Like TikTok and its Instagram and Snapchat competitors, Shorts includes video creation tools that allow users to upload videos or shoot new content right within the app. It also offers a basic set of editing features to do things like adjust video speed, set a timer, combine clips or even use a green screen effect, among others.
According to a spokesperson for YouTube, the company is trying to understand with the new test whether or not users find it useful to start over where they left off the last time they closed the app.
But the test also shows how YouTube views TikTok, and the broader shift to short videos, as a potential threat to its business. Although TikTok popularized the abbreviated vertical stream format, it has since entered YouTube territory. This summer, for example, TikTok officially extended the maximum video length to 3 minutes, down from 60 seconds. And he’s been spotted testing 5-minute videos over the past few months.
To better take on TikTok, YouTube this year announced plans to pay creators of short films directly, with the introduction of a $ 100 million YouTube fund for short films that will run from 2021 to 2022. These payments may range from $ 100 to $ 10,000, based on audience and engagement with the Shorts videos.
But simply enticing the creative community may not be enough to give YouTube an edge. So he’s now trying a more aggressive tactic – getting users back into Shorts when relaunching the app, if that’s what they last watched. In doing so, it is possible for these users to scroll down and watch a few videos before doing what they came to do in the app. And if they just launched YouTube because they had time to kill, the app will aim to grab their attention with the content from Shorts.
The test comes at a time when the use of Shorts is growing. During its second quarter results, YouTube parent company Alphabet reported that Shorts surpassed 15 billion daily views, up from 6.5 billion in the first quarter. But part of this increase could be attributed to the expansion of the market, and not necessarily to the increase in user demand.
YouTube declined to specify how long these new tests will run, saying only that it will make the decision based on user and creator feedback, in addition to metrics.