YouTube expands test that lets users jump to its TikTok rival, Shorts

YouTube is working to give Shorts, its TikTok competitor, an edge.

The firm confirmed that it will extend a recent global test that lets the YouTube mobile app default to open straight into Shorts if the user had previously watched Shorts videos.

In other words, instead of being sent to the main YouTube website when you return to the app, you would be dropped into a short-form video experience.

The company announced the test publicly last week, claiming it has been running on iOS just for a small percentage of worldwide users.

The experiment will only be applied to those who are using YouTube’s TikTok alternative, known as Shorts. YouTube Shorts was initially launched in India over a year ago and has since expanded to other global markets throughout 2021.

Unless creators have opted out of having their material repurposed in Shorts, the short-form video platform allows users to make up to 60-second films set to music, original audio, or “remixed” content sourced from other YouTube videos.

Shorts also provides a number of basic video editing capabilities, including speeding up the film, setting a timer, combining snippets, and even utilizing a green screen effect.

The company is currently investigating whether or not users find it beneficial to start from where they left off the previous time they closed the app, according to a YouTube spokesperson.

However, the test also indicates how YouTube views TikTok and short-form videos as a potential hazard to its business.

While TikTok popularized the short-form, vertical feed format, it has been gradually encroaching on YouTube’s turf. For example, TikTok recently increased the maximum video length to 3 minutes from 60 seconds. In recent months, it has also been testing 5-minute films.

This year, in an attempt to compete with TikTok, YouTube revealed its intentions to directly pay Shorts creators with the creation of a 100 million YouTube Shorts Fund that will run for 2021-2022. Based on viewership and engagement with the Shorts films, these payouts can range from 100 to 10,000.

However, simply incentivizing the inventive community may not be enough to give YouTube an advantage. As a result, it’s now employing a more aggressive approach: immediately returning users to Shorts if they had last watched it when the app is relaunched.

The researchers conducted a test at this point when Shorts’ usage was growing. During its Q2 earnings announcement, Google parent company Alphabet announced that Shorts had passed 15 billion daily views, up from 6.5 billion in Q1.

Some of this rise may be due to market expansions rather than increased user demand, according to YouTube. The company would not say how long the new tests will last; instead, it will determine that based on user and creator feedback as well as metrics.