Breaking Down The Battle Between YouTube & TikTok

Edition #48

Breaking Down The Battle Between YouTube & TikTok

Welcome to Friday! Today's newsletter is all about the ongoing battle between YouTube and TikTok. Enjoy the read, and let me know your thoughts.

Today’s Edition:

  • YouTube and TikTok’s head-to-head competition

  • Discord acquires popular teen app Gas

  • YouTube adds location tagging for Shorts

YouTube Vs. TikTok: Short-Form Video Monetization, Feature Launches, Podcasting & Bigger Screens

This week’s biggest news – YouTube is returning as the title sponsor for VidCon Anaheim 2023. Just a year after TikTok was chosen to sponsor the biggest conference for creators, marketers, and fans, YouTube takes the reins back.

Its return comes on the heels of what could be a pivotal step in its short, short-form video history. Next month, it will launch the highly anticipated Shorts revenue-sharing program, where creators can monetize their Shorts through ads. This is an excellent step towards building long-term monetization for creators across short-form videos. However, there may be some disappointment once initial revenue kicks in due to the complicated split between creators, music rights owners, and YouTube.

Despite similarities to TikTok's Pulse feature, where creators can earn money through ad revenue sharing, YouTube's Shorts program appears to be a more comprehensive offering. In TikTok’s case, only creators with the top 4% performing videos on a daily basis are eligible for monetization. Additionally, some creators have expressed dissatisfaction with the program due to the requirement to grant TikTok the right to sublicense their content without receiving royalties.

But, the battle between YouTube and TikTok goes well beyond short-form video monetization. In the past months, we’ve witnessed the tech giants go head to head in several arenas.

Here’s a breakdown:

YouTube Goes Short, TikTok Goes Long

With an established presence for long-form video, many of YouTube’s new feature launches are Shorts related. In recent months, it has added a number of TikTok-like features, including Voiceovers, Comment Stickers, Green Screen, and Remix.

Conversely, TikTok is finding its way into more YouTube territory. Through tests and launches of video scrubbing thumbnails, a full-screen, horizontal mode, increased character limits for video descriptions, and 10-minute video uploads, it’s making a case for creators to share longer-form video content like YouTube.

Foray Into Podcasting

Regarding podcasting, YouTube is farther ahead thanks to the recent launches of a dedicated podcast hub, expanded Audio Ads, and support for podcast-focused branded content campaigns in BrandConnect, its influencer marketing platform. According to Edison, YouTube is the second most popular destination for podcasts.

Today, TikTok doesn’t officially support podcasting, but that could change quickly. This week, it was discovered to be testing a native podcast feature, where users can listen to the audio of a video via a new ‘Podcast’ page while the app is in the background. There have also been sightings of a trademark for TikTok Music that indicate it plans to support podcasts and digital radio content along with music.

With TikTok’s algorithm and the growing popularity of video podcasts, there is a great deal of opportunity for podcasts. Many podcast creators have found success on the platform by uploading key moments of episodes and often racking hundreds of thousands to millions of views.

TikTok’s powerful algorithm, paired with an added ability for podcasters to link video clips to full-show episodes could be quite appealing to creators as it would solve one of the biggest issues with podcasts – discovery. With podcasts sometimes being as long as multiple hours, this could drive up user engagement and keep users from going elsewhere to find full-length episodes.

Beyond Mobile Screens

Both platforms are expanding their presence beyond mobile and trying to reach the 2 billion plus screens that aren’t mobile devices. YouTube has been making its content available outside of these since 2017 with YouTube TV, but 2022 saw it take even bigger steps.

It brought Shorts to connected TVs (e.g., smart TVs, streaming devices, and gaming consoles), launched Primetime Channels, and inked a deal with the NFL to be the exclusive provider of NFL Sunday Ticket. These have a creator tie-in as well, providing creators with expanded viewership and new content opportunities.

As for TikTok, its videos are making their way to an array of screens. It was the first to bring short-form videos to TV Screens with its TikTok App. It also had recent partnerships with companies like Loop TV and movie theater Cineplex that distribute TikToks in various public spaces. With the latter, curated sound off TikTok videos can be watched at restaurants, retail stores, salons, and healthcare offices, and with the former, TikTok videos are packaged together as a customizable two-minute segment shown during the pre-show of a movie.

What To Make Of All This?

Chances are there won’t be a clear winner between YouTube and TikTok. As much as we love to say one platform is better than the other, it’s become clear that winners can change at any time. Just like a heavyweight boxing match, YouTube and TikTok will continue to go back and forth, all while pushing others. This will lead to a marathon of new features, developments, and initiatives that will benefit all – creators, advertisers, and viewers.

More News

Discord Acquires Popular Teen App Gas

Discord acquired Gas, a teen social polling app that allows users to anonymously share compliments and positive messages with one another. It was founded by former Facebook product manager Nikita Bier, who also launched a similar app called tbh, which Meta acquired in 2017.

Gas will continue to operate as a standalone app for the time being, but the Gas team will be joining Discord to help it expand its own platform. With the acquisition, Discord has access to a younger audience base of teens with the potential to convert them into Discord users. Although the economy is down, this likely won’t be the only acquisition by one of the big social platforms.

YouTube Adds Location Tagging For Shorts

YouTube has become the latest to add location tagging. It revealed that it is currently testing the ability for creators to add a location to their Shorts during the upload process. Like Instagram’s Location Tags and TikTok’s Place feature, location tagging is an easy way to enhance search and discovery.

There’s no word whether YouTube will group together Shorts that are tagged with the same location, but that will likely be the case. If so, this could lead to YouTube adding Shorts content to Google Maps so that people can see relevant content when searching for locations to visit, especially restaurants, cafes, city parks, and landmarks.

TikTok Gives Creators Audience Controls

TikTok added new audience controls for creators, allowing them to restrict their short-form videos to users over 18, similar to LIVE. The controls are aimed at protecting younger audiences from sexually suggestive content.

Audience controls are just TikTok’s recent efforts to create a safer environment for its users. While social media platforms have a strong responsibility to protect their users, creators also play a role in ensuring that the content they share is being shared with the right audiences. TikTok's new audience controls empower creators to do this, but it is uncertain whether they will use them - even if it’s the right thing to do- as the controls may limit their viewership and reach.

Instagram Launches New Control Features For Teens

Instagram launched new features geared at helping teens manage their time on the app. With Quiet Mode, users are able to pause their notifications and update their profile status to “In quiet mode,” which will send an auto-reply when they receive a new DM. There’s also the ability for users to indicate words, emojis, or hashtags that are in the captions of posts that they don’t want to see in recommended posts.

Pinterest Will Relaunch Pinterest Academy

Pinterest is relaunching Pinterest Academy this quarter. The global-e-learning platform will provide creators, agencies, and brand marketers with snackable courses on how to best leverage the platform. Topics will include creative strategy, campaign building, measurement, and more. Similar to TikTok Academy, courses should lead to more people being able to take advantage of all of Pinterest’s capabilities.

What I’m Reading

  • Amazon Is paying influencers to use its TikTok competitor (Business Insider)

  • TikTok’s fashion creators forge ahead in face of potential US ban (Vogue Business)

  • Internet's short video creativity crisis (Axios)