We talk to industry experts in a bid to understand the impact of YouTube Shorts on influencer marketing in an Indian context and the way brands may look at the platform henceforth.
After the ban on TikTok, a lot has happened. Instagram launched Reels, a number of local apps gained momentum - all to fill the gaps left in the decision's wake. Now, YouTube is joining the race with the beta version of Shorts, the impact of which is bound to be multi-fold in the influencer marketing landscape of India.
For one, YouTube has a very huge and diverse userbase, one that can be leveraged by brands in unique ways. Secondly, it's not a new app, especially when it comes to videos. A lot of famous influencer-celebrities started their journey on the platform.
YouTube clearly has a lot to gain with Shorts in India, we talk to experts to understand the impact it may have on the ways brands look at influencer marketing with respect to the platform.
Discoverability is key
With YouTube Shorts, subscribers stand to win feels Sandeep Sreekumar, Managing Director, Media Moments, as they would get to consume shorter content, as an add-on to the longer content they anyway come to the platform for. He further dwells on what made TikTok interesting: Discoverability.
TikTok was built in such a way, he explains, that people were discovering a lot more content without necessarily following those people. People kept scrolling and interacting with those videos, which were on autoplay. This also added to the view of a video.
"It wasn't just the short-form content that worked, it was also how the platform was behaving," he tells us, explaining the importance of the platform in driving behaviour, creation and consumption.
Acknowledging the feature's nascent stage, Pulpkey's Founder, Amit Mondal says, "Shorts needs to first get popular with existing YouTubers, only then brands will invest in it. For YouTubers, it will be an additional publishing space but they will post more only if the algorithm shows it to more people."
Giving the example of Reels, he tells us how the emphasis on Explore and a stand-alone button on the app's homepage have contributed to the success of Instagram being able to welcome and retain several TikTokers.
Mondal feels that brands should ideally cross-post their existing short-form content on YouTube Shorts until they understand the platform, it's impact and user behaviour to experiment with dedicatedly-made content.
Attractive add on
YouTube Shorts are expected to open up new avenues to YouTubers trying to monetize their content. According to Neel Gogia, Co-founder, IPLIX Media, the feature may not play a huge role in attracting new influencers to the platform as one needs to have regular videos on YouTube to build their audience.
Shorts can be an add on, he feels. "Content creators on YouTube have always created long-form content, this will give them an opportunity to create content with their audience in a different style. Brands and agencies will have to curate ideas and understand how they take the benefit of this feature along with regular integration," he adds.
Changes in media spends
Gautam Madhavan, CEO & Co-founder, Mad Influence feels YouTube Shorts will help YouTubers understand short video content strategy and slowly open up to the idea. He further predicts the feature to help level the field in regards to ad spends, helping brands incorporate the platform in their plans in new, better ways.
"YouTube currently as compared to other social media platforms is comparatively expensive. This feature will allow the prices to drop since the content duration is reduced and the brands can now also use YouTube as their mainstream medium to drive traffic in an affordable way," he tells us.
Build-in audiences to leverage
Would Shorts make YouTube an integrated platform for content creators? Siddharth Khanna, Co-Founder & CEO, Brand Visage Communications feels YouTube influencers would see this as a positive shift towards engagement. Shorter videos get more view-through views than longer ones, he adds.
"YouTube comes with a huge built-in audience, which will make the early adoption of Shorts easy. Shorts will be another way to keep people on the platform longer and get both existing and new creators to continue uploading," he tells us, adding that while there will be challenges, Shorts presently seems to be among the top contenders to replace TikTok.
Credibility takes time
Would brands flock to experimenting with Shorts? Divanshi Gupta, Director, The Marcom Avenue feels it is unlikely for even in the case of TikTok, it took brands many months to analyse the reach and engagement level of ads published on the platform.
"For brands and agencies that believe in and have unlocked the power of long-format videos, YouTube Shorts will act as a trailer launching platform within the app," Gupta explains in regards to how brands and agencies can best leverage the new YouTube offering.
Further, with respect to various new apps coming up in the wake of the TikTok ban, she tells us that though Google and Facebook may have an upper edge, market saturation is bound to have an impact on consumer preferences and choice. The result is one to wait and watch.
Game changer for brands
Offering a perspective of a brand that regularly works with influencers, Sachin Thapar, Founder & CEO, The 2358 Store tells us, "We are looking forward to collaborating with YouTube influencers. With YouTube Shorts, we would be able to reach more audiences with short, engaging content."
"During the pandemic, there was an increase in influencer activity. It led to brands revising their promotional content, making it more consumer sensitive and appropriate for the current situation. YouTube Shorts would add up to this trend," he explains.
The road ahead
YouTube Shorts can be looked at as a brand awareness and brand humanization tool, says Digidart's CEO & Founder, Siddhartha Vanvani. "For well-established YouTubers, this is a welcome feature as it presents them the opportunity to repurpose their content bank effectively through another medium," he tells us.
Further, he shares some probable use-case scenarios for Shorts:
- Educational content that explains real-life problems that the brand can solve.
- Announcements, giveaways, contests and other brand engagement activities can be announced with relevant background score and animation, to activate cold audiences towards the brand.
- Introduce the people associated with the brand, show humane side.
- Agencies can package their social media offerings to include Shorts as an integrated social effort and indulge in short, concise social media reporting. They can push client work and BTS content.
- Shorts can be used to make swift changes to brand voice and persona.