Youtube Shorts Youtube Shorts

In May, Youtube announced that it would hand out $100 million this year and next to creators on its new Shorts platform. In a rare interview, the company’s chief product officer Neal Mohan has elaborated on the new initiative.

Shorts is essentially Youtube’s answer to Tiktok: a new in-app function that lets users create videos of up to 60 seconds using their phone camera, which viewers then swipe through. After a trial run in India, the platform has now been rolled out to over 100 countries. The company says Shorts are notching up 15 billion views per day.

The fund has also launched in ten countries, including the United States. Creators stand to receive payments of $100 to $10,000. Shorts are not directly linked to ads views (the metric on which the monetization of regular videos is based), so the fund represents an alternative way to entice creators. But it is very much a work in progress, as Mohan tells The Verge’s Decoder podcast (listen and read here).

Mohan describes the fund, which mimics similar initiatives by Tiktok and Snapchat, as a trial — “a means by which my team’s goal is to develop what we hope will be the long-term, scalable monetization program for Shorts.” The team is currently investigating how best to measure engagement on the new platform. Mohan notes that metrics may end up varying across regions.

According to Youtube’s guidelines, “All of your Shorts videos will count towards your Shorts performance each month that they receive views — not just the month they were uploaded.”

While resembling Tiktok, Shorts has a couple of unique features, which Mohan highlights. Its key distinction is that it’s connected to the vast Youtube library: creators can incorporate an audio sample from almost any video on the platform into their Short. In the other direction, a Short can easily send the viewer to the original video from which the audio was sampled.

Decoder’s interviewer points out that Tiktok comes with a powerful suite of in-app creation tools, which Shorts is currently lacking. Mohan notes that Shorts creators have requested features like better filters and editing tools, which are on the cards: “I’d like to see [those things] sooner rather than later, but I also know our teams are working on it.”

When pressed, Mohan does not say whether Youtube penalize creators who upload recycled Tiktok videos by decreasing their engagement, as Instagram is doing. He indicates that decisions like these are driven by things like viewer engagement and feedback. Youtube’s guidelines state that Shorts must be original, and contain no watermarks or logos from other social platforms, to qualify for the fund.

When asked whether Youtube creators would see their engagement fall unless they started using Shorts, Mohan is clearer: “We don’t talk about that in the explicit way that you’re describing at all.” He insists that Youtube is there to support a “diversity of creators.”

The executive adds that “we could continue to do a lot more” when it comes to explaining the company’s monetization policies to creators in general.

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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