YouTube only succeeds when our creators do, and that is now true for Shorts creators: Ajay Vidyasagar, Regional Director, APAC, YouTube Partnerships


YouTube Shorts is a short-form video feature introduced by Google in the year 2020 to compete with rivals like Instagram Reels and TikTok. An India-first product, YouTube Shorts allows content creators to record short videos of up to 60 seconds and add music/sound overlays in the YouTube app. Earlier this year, Google claimed that YouTube Shorts is now being watched by over 1.5 billion signed-in users every month with more than 30 billion daily views. The company recently announced monetization for Shorts creators. Starting in early 2023, Shorts creators who reach 10 million shorts views over 90 days can apply to earn money through YouTube’s Partner Program. In an interview with Times of India, Ajay Vidyasagar, regional director, APAC, YouTube Partnerships, talks about the Shorts platform, new monetisation plan for content creators, and what it offers to YouTube viewers.
Q. YouTube Shorts is India-first product as India was the test market for YouTube Shorts, now it’s on the top level of the app, how has been the evolution?
We truly believe that what moves India has the potential to influence the world. Digital video, in particular, short form video, which is easy to consume and create, has become a gateway to the world for millions of Indians. We saw the great potential and engagement short form content has for today’s increasingly mobile viewer. That’s why two years ago, we introduced YouTube Shorts, first in India, to make it easier to watch and create short-form content on YouTube. Today, YouTube Shorts are being watched by over 1.5B logged-in users every month. Globally, India is one of our focus markets.
When we introduced Shorts, we knew that we were bringing an important new format to the YouTube repertoire for creators. And, we’re constantly amazed at the array of new ways that Shorts is helping invigorate a creator’s existing channel or inform a new content strategy. What we’ve seen is that creators are getting really innovative with how they use these multiple formats at their disposal to meet their personal and business goals, whether it’s driving viewership and subscribers, finding a new audience or boosting their bottom line.
Shorts are also helping to capture the interest of mobile-first creators and viewers who only know life with a smartphone. In India, Shorts is lowering the barriers for under-represented voices that may otherwise have not had a platform. We’re seeing creators across languages, socio-economic backgrounds and even India’s hinterlands turn to Shorts to share their passions, grow their channels and build successful careers. We are just at the beginning of this new era, and while formats may be changing, our commitment to creators and their ability to thrive remains unwavering.
Q. What have been the specific India learnings and challenges that have been incorporated globally?
Since we introduced our initial Shorts beta in India 2 years ago, we saw creators using our tools creatively. We heard how important it is to have intuitive creation tools that make it easy to make a Short and get creative with it. That’s why we made sure to have foundational tools like a multi-segment camera, speed controls, and more on day one. We’ve introduced new ways for people to remix content, such as Green Screen and Cut, so that anyone can put their own spin on the content they love on YouTube, and we will continue to launch more creation tools as we go based on creator feedback.
Q. There’s a new monetisation system for YouTube Shorts. How will it work?
We’ve always believed in sharing our success with creators. That’s why we launched the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) all the way back in 2007. That meant that creators could, for the first time, share in the revenue and earn money from their content. Today, there are eight different ways to monetize on YouTube. And, over the last three years, we have paid more than $50 billion to creators, artists, and media companies.
Starting in early 2023, Shorts-focused creators can apply to YPP by meeting a threshold of 1,000 subscribers and 10 million Shorts views over 90 days. These new partners will enjoy all the benefits YPP offers, including ads monetization across Shorts and long-form YouTube videos. This is another option to the existing criteria where long-form creators can still apply to YPP when they reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. Creators can choose the one option that best fits their channel while YouTube maintains the same level of brand safety for advertisers. To support creators who are early in their YouTube journey, YouTube will also introduce a new level of YPP with lower requirements that will offer earlier access to Fan Funding features like Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Stickers and Channel Memberships.
YouTube only succeeds when our creators do, and that is now true for Shorts creators. And, we’ve introduced a first-of-its-kind revenue sharing model for Shorts. To reward this new creative class, beginning in early 2023, we’ll be moving away from a fixed fund and doubling down on a unique revenue sharing model for Shorts for both current and future YPP creators. Because ads run between videos in the Shorts Feed, every month, revenue from these ads will be added together and used to reward Shorts creators and help cover costs of music licensing. From the overall amount allocated to creators, they will keep 45% of the revenue, distributed based on their share of total Shorts views. The revenue share remains the same, no matter if they use music or not.
With TikTok out of India for over two years now, who do you see as your closest competitor in India? Instagram Reels, SnapChat or some other?
What we see today is that creators use different platforms for different reasons — they are cross-platform by nature, and fans move across platforms seamlessly too. For many, YouTube is their homebase, it’s where they build an audience and their businesses.
This is where our unique value proposition comes into play: YouTube is the only destination where creators can produce all forms of content while building community and earning money from multiple revenue streams. For us the key insight was not that people like short form video; we’ve always had short videos on YouTube. It was that creators are creating in new ways and we have to meet them where they are. That’s driven a lot of the product investment.
Our job is to continue providing creators with the best possible experience so that they can build an audience and succeed on YouTube. This is what we’re focused on and why we have introduced new pathways for creators to join the YouTube Partner Program and make money on the platform.
Q. All platforms these days talk about the creator economy, how would you define it for a lay reader?
The internet has opened the door for people to participate as creative entrepreneurs, and YouTube is at the heart of that trend. We launched the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), a first-of-its-kind open monetisation programme where we share the majority of revenue with creators, over 14 years ago, and today more than 2 million creators participate in YPP globally.
YouTube is an open platform, which means opportunity for those who are underrepresented in traditional media. By radically lowering barriers to entry, YouTube is now home to thousands of creative entrepreneurs in India who are transforming their passions into professions and building thriving businesses on our platform. As the early adopters of video creation on YouTube saw success in India, it has inspired a whole generation of content creators to express themselves, pursue their passion and drive growth in the overall ecosystem. It is heartening to see that, today, we have creators representing various geographies, even India’s hinterlands, genres, genders, flourish on our platforms.
For example, when we look at our key metrics, YouTube creators in India are thriving: Creators are generating sizable income, and that income continues to grow. Creators are attracting a growing audience. In India, over 40k channels have over 100K subscribers, an increase of over 45%, year over year as of July 2021, while over 4k channels have over 1M subscribers, an increase of over 50%, year over year as of July 2021. Moreover, the number of YouTube channels in India making Rs 100K or more in revenue is up over 60%, year over year (a/o June 2021). They are also using our fan funding features to further boost their income.
What are the most important feature/s that you think has helped the platform build/enhance connectivity with the audience?
Over the years, our teams have worked to enrich the experience for both viewers and creators — based on feedback from our community and all the creative ways they use the platform. We’ve introduced key product developments to make content more accessible, interactive and safer for our community, that make it possible for viewers to connect more deeply with the content and creators they like. Here’s a quick look at some of these features and tools:
Fan funding: Over 15 years ago, YouTube recognized creativity should be rewarded and helped spark and build the creator economy into what it has become today. In India, we now have 8 ways for creators to make money, with fan funding at the heart of viewer support for creators. This initiative started in 2017 with the launch of Super Chat and has since expanded to Super Stickers and Super Thanks, allowing fans to connect with creators and show their appreciation through one-time payments. Channel memberships also arrived in 2017, giving fans exclusive access to custom perks and content for a monthly fee that creators set.
Shorts: Creators on YouTube can connect with their community with the right content at the right time by using a range of video formats, from video on demand, to live, to shorter-form Clips and Shorts.
Premieres: This feature has been a favorite of creators, who used it to draw fans from around the world by building anticipation for a new video or live stream. YouTube introduced this tool in 2018, and two years later, we made Premieres even more premier by adding further ways to build engagement through Live Redirect, Trailers and Countdown Themes.
YouTube Music + Premium: YouTube Music app makes it easier to explore and personalize music. And to give users even more choice, we launched YouTube Premium for an ads-free, background and offline experience on both YouTube and YouTube Music.
How do you think about the audience on YouTube Shorts? Do you think it is driven by the creators or it belongs to the platform?
Today’s viewers expect video to meet them where they are: in the living room, on the go, and everywhere in between. The interplay between VOD (video on demand), Shorts, and Live mirrors the reality of today’s viewer, who watches video at different times in various places. They need content that suits their active lives, varied interests and wide ranging attention spans. And, our growing cohort of multiformat creators are taking full advantage of every format, tool and product at their disposal — from video formats to analytics. The multiformat creator moves seamlessly between different video types on YouTube to connect their community with the right content at the right time, creating an infinite flow of content combinations to maximize their creativity, reach and revenue.
This approach is yielding real results. For example, with the launch of Shorts, channels uploading both Shorts and long-form are seeing better overall watch time and subscriber growth relative to those only uploading long-form. Multiformat creators on YouTube are leading the way for what’s next in the video industry.
Does moderator thing work for YouTube Shorts too? If yes, what are the broad guidelines?
Over the years, we’ve invested heavily in the policies and products needed to protect the YouTube community. Beyond removing harmful content, we also leverage our recommendations system and monetization tools, to promote a healthy ecosystem. We’re committed to quickly removing any content that violates our Community Guidelines–which establishes the rules of the road for what’s allowed on YouTube. All existing YouTube policies and guidelines, including our Community Guidelines, apply to Shorts.



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