What is YouTube Shorts & Why Marketers Are Already Using It

Did you know that the first video published on YouTube was only 18-seconds long?

Since launching in 2005, the video giant’s founders have learned time and time again that content doesn’t need to be long to engage audiences.

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Now, following a nearly year long beta period – as well as the success of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other viral video platforms – YouTube Shorts is in full swing and creators can now take advantage of the YouTube Shorts Fund.

Let’s talk about what YouTube Shorts is, how it works, and how brands like yours can leverage it.

What is YouTube Shorts?

In September of 2020, YouTube Shorts – a YouTube app feature that rivals TikTok and Instagram Reels – began its first round of testing in India. The beta feature enabled users to see and create 15-second videos with musical overlays.

Even in its most basic beta form, the Shorts feature saw solid performance in India.

In late February of 2021, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced that videos on the India-based Shorts player receive 3.5 billion cumulative daily views.

The Shorts beta was fully released in the U.S. in March of 2021, surpassing 6.5 billion daily views.

A few months later in July, Shorts launched globally in over 100 countries.

With YouTube Shorts still in beta mode, marketers are wondering how they’ll take advantage of this video feature, what the final platform will look like, if it will have similar virality to TikTok, and how it could help brands better engage with YouTube’s more than 2 billion active users.

The truth is, as short-form video platforms grow more and more popular, it’s hard to know which will rise above the others. And, because the YouTube Shorts is still evolving, we can’t fully predict what using it will be like in the near future.

Here’s one thing we do know: YouTube houses millions of hours of branded content. As such, YouTube Shorts could be worth your time – especially if you already have a video strategy on the platform.

Below, I’ll walk through the basics of YouTube Shorts, and what opportunities it could provide for marketers upon its official launch.


What is YouTube Shorts?


When explaining why YouTube decided to launch Shorts, a blog post from the tech giant read, “Every month, 2 billion viewers come to YouTube to laugh, learn and connect. Creators have built entire businesses on YouTube, and we want to enable the next generation of mobile creators to also grow a community on YouTube with Shorts.”

“User-generated short videos were born on YouTube starting with our first upload, a short 18-second video called ‘Me at the zoo.’ As technology advances, creators and artists can now take advantage of the incredible power of smartphones to easily create and publish high-quality content wherever they are in the world,” the YouTube post added.

The post continues to say that consumers today enjoy bite-sized content that they can enjoy at any time of the day. A platform like YouTube Shorts allows viewers to step away from long-form video content and alternate as they please.