According to an article by Julia Alexander published on the Verge, YouTube is reportedly working on developing a TikTok competitor called Shorts.
Truth be told, I finally jumped on the TikTok bandwagon only a couple of weeks ago, out of pure boredom caused by the pandemic lockdown. However, to my surprise, I found the content profoundly hilarious. Even though I didn’t necessarily feel inspired to create my own videos on the app, I kept using it for entertainment. I found that people do actually put a lot of effort into making TikToks and some of them are very creative. Similarly to other social media platforms TikTok has its own hashtags, trends and challenges. Although, I couldn’t help but notice that the content itself, however good, bad, funny or heartwarming wasn’t directly and indisputably interrupted by ads. Unlike YouTube and Instagram for example which I would say are the main competitor social media platforms.
To be completely honest, I very much enjoyed TikTok for that specific reason, no ads. This sounds very hypocritical from an advertising student about to go into the industry. But it got me thinking, could there be some form of advertising on TikTok that wouldn’t end up annoying users?
On one hand, at least based on my personal experience, Instagram doesn’t completely miss the mark when it comes to advertising to its users. Some of the sponsored ads that appear whilst I check through my stories aren’t tremendously annoying.
To elaborate I’ll give as an example the advertisements of musicians, artists, films and the occasional fashion brands that pop up on my feed. Now, based on the service’s brilliant algorithmic calculations of my interests instagram manages promote things that, as much as I would hate to admit, I don’t entirely despise seeing.
On the other hand, these adverts are quite short, snip bits of full campaigns which means they don’t require a lot of my time to pay attention to them, which is perhaps why I don’t mind them as much.
In comparison, however, YouTube is exactly the opposite. It’s obviously not as popular as it once was, despite desperately trying to compete with other social media platforms by adapting similar features. The monthly subscriptions and the YouTube stories completely tanked, they simply aren’t suitable for the platform.
As content consumption evolved, YouTube stated loosing its audience. The way they use promotion and advertising certainly didn’t help the situation. A jumble of all sorts of brands advertising all sorts of things, it’s just all over the place. So what else is to be expected from their new service Shorts?
The reality is that some social media features much like some advertisements just aren’t suitable for every platform. YouTube simply has too many ads, a lot of which are irrelevant to the users of the platform and their duration is much too long. They have become an inconvenience to such an extend that they’re preventing people from enjoying the content they are actually trying to watch. So instead of coming up with new features that simply will not fit, why not just fix the problems to better the original service of the platform? It would certainly help the advertising industry, by lowering the amount of users with AdBlocker and bringing back the audience that stoped using the platform because of the way it has changed.
This leads me to my final point that perhaps advertising could be possible on TikTok. But in order for advertisements to work in reaching the consumers they would need to be UGC-style type of ads. Advertisers need to oblige by the rules of TikTok follow the platform’s trends, hashtags and challenges. Most importantly, however, all of us in the ad industry must understand that not all brands are suitable for TikTok. It’s just not for everybody.