- YouTube is launching a $100 million fund to attract creators to its Shorts video feature that rivals TikTok. The Google-owned platform will make the fund accessible to any video maker who follows the site's community guidelines, not just those eligible for its advertising program, according to a company announcement.
- In a departure for YouTube, the online video giant will contact and pay creators each month based on engagement and views. The YouTube Shorts Fund plans to distribute its $100 million through the end of 2022.
- The new fund rewarding Shorts creators is the latest entry in a bidding war for internet personalities driven by the success of TikTok and Snapchat, which debuted a similar program in November to distribute $1 million daily for top-performing videos.
YouTube's new Shorts Fund arrives as the online video giant attempts to grow the user and creator base for its short-form video product, which is the company's response to mobile-first rivals like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram's Reels. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said on an April earnings call that Shorts is earning 6.5 billion daily views globally, a lift from 3.5 billion at the end of 2020.
The Google-owned platform is the latest to deploy a designated fund to court creators. Snapchat's similar payout program to entice influencers to try Spotlight was intended to expire at the end of 2020, but Snap decided to prolong the offer, spurring an average of 175,000 video submissions a day. Facebook has tried similar tactics to lure stars and mimic popular features.
A key differentiator for YouTube's fund is that it is open to a larger net of people, allowing anyone to attempt to earn a slice of the $100 million payout. Basing the payments on viewership and engagement — rather than ad revenue — may appeal to microinfluencers with smaller followings and amateur creators looking to experiment with short-form video. The new fund also marks YouTube's first step in a longer-term journey to build out Shorts' monetization model, per the company's announcement.
"This is a top priority for us, and will take us some time to get it right," Amy Singer, Shorts' director of global partnership enablement, said in the announcement.
Despite Shorts' fund arriving just this week, YouTube has paid out video makers for more than a decade by splitting ad sales with creators. The video giant in 2018 limited the number of creators eligible for payouts after a bout of brand safety issues. This time around, with Shorts, anyone who follows the community guidelines can earn money.
Alongside its fund announcement, YouTube is adding capabilities to shoot and produce Shorts, as some of TikTok's success is linked to its ease of making videos on smartphones.