YouTube wants to take over short-form videos, but will its monetization model attract creators?

The company started monetizing Shorts earlier this month, but some say the payment is less than ideal


With innovation comes competition, and YouTube knows it.

In an effort to compete with TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other short-form video platforms, YouTube launched Shorts in September 2020. Shorts are videos that run up to 60-seconds, and YouTube sweetened the deal by announcing a $100 million USD (roughly $135 million CAD) fund in September 2021 to pay creators.

But the platform recently took this a step further, signalling its seriousness by rolling out new monetizing policies for Shorts. But some question if the pay is worth it.

The details

The monetization program kicked off on February 1st, and creators need 1,000 subscribers and 10 million eligible views in the past 90 days to join the program. Alternatively, the 10 million views can also be replaced with 4,000 watch hours on long-form videos.

While it’s clear Shorts are a priority for the platform, it’s unknown exactly how much creators are able to make.

We know that revenue comes from ads placed between Shorts, and the payout is country-specific. Money made from ads goes to two avenues: the Creator Pool, which pays creators, and music licensing.

If a Short has no music, all the associated funds go to the Creator Pool. If there is music, the revenue is split between the Creator Pool and music licenses. From the pooled funds, money is divided based on a creator’s share of monetized views, and creators keep 45 percent of the amount.

In the case of YouTube Premium, which allows subscribers to view content without ads, the company says it pays 45 percent of the net revenue it earns from that front to creators. The total amount creators get depends on how many views they have on premium accounts in a given country.

There are a lot of questions about how much advertisers pay YouTube and what the CPM (the cost per 1,000 impressions) is. For long-form videos, estimates put the cost of ads at $0.10-$0.30 per view. It’s unclear if this applies to Shorts as well. YouTube made $7.9 million in ads in Q4 2022, results show.

Talking money

There’s no questioning that the program is only in its infancy, but officials have hyped it, presenting the expectation that it will be worthwhile for creators. “We’re confident in YouTube’s long-term trajectory,” Philipp Schindler, CBO of Google, said at Alphabet’s Q4 2022 earnings call. Placing an emphasis on Shorts, Schindler said the creator eco-system would help drive the platform’s long-term growth and “ramping Shorts” is the number one thing YouTube is focused on.

Shorts creator Artin Avaznia hopes this turns out to be true. The Canadian solo dance artist is hoping to make the monetization program. While he’s netted 100,000 views in the last 90 days and is hopeful he’ll soon be able to reach the requirements to get monetized, he doesn’t expect it to “drive” his revenue. “I kind of view it as just an extra incentive. Like, why not get a little bit of extra money from doing this stuff from YouTube purely?”

Some creators have found this to be the case. But while they are earning a bit of money, it hasn’t been the amount they thought it would be.

“I think this is one of these things where we kind of have to see how it plays out over a couple of years…” – Matt Moniz.

One creator, who asked to remain anonymous, told MobileSyrup they made $4 for 250K views on Shorts across two channels (with 2.4 million subscribers) in the first three days of the monetization program.

Matt Moniz, a Toronto-based tech YouTuber, agrees the payment program isn’t that great so far.

“I just don’t think it’s as grand as they were saying,” Moniz told MobileSyrup. Citing an example, Moniz said one of his Shorts on the Samsung Galaxy S23 had half a million views at the beginning of March. He earned $15.

“Obviously, it’s not gonna get the same type of revenue as long-form content,” Moniz acknowledged.

“I’m not spending hours on end shooting B-roll, editing an eight-minute video, and it only gets like 400 to 800 views.” – Nick Basra

Nick Basra is also a YouTuber and Shorts creator. He told MobileSyrup he made $7.50 on 11 Shorts in February. Some of his videos have gotten between 500 and more than 1,000 views, while others have received less. The viewership fluctuates, he said, but creating Shorts is something he enjoys. He admits the monetary value “may not be worthwhile,” but it’s much easier to create and share content, which is what he loves to do.

“I’m not spending hours on end shooting B-roll, editing an eight-minute video, and it only gets like 400 to 800 views.”

As a YouTuber, Basra prefers creating and consuming Shorts, compared to TikToks and Instagram Reels. While part of the reason is that he actively posts videos on YouTube, he also favours the platform’s layout.

Avaznia hopes other platforms jump on the monetization train in Canada. “With other short-form platforms here in Canada, we don’t get the opportunity to get any funding from it.” As a popular TikTok creator (with almost 40,000 followers), Avaznia can’t access similar payouts from Canada, as TikTok Creator Fund is yet to be available in the country. “I think YouTube is pioneering [paying Canadians for short-form content], and I hope that it’s going to encourage other platforms to get more involved and see the value that creators have.

Basra also believes YouTube will focus on Shorts videos more, which Schindler has publicly promised to do. “I feel like YouTube, probably in the long run, will just have a bigger impact on short-form videos.”

Moniz shares the same hope. “I think this is one of these things where we kind of have to see how it plays out over a couple of years. But, so far, this is kind of what I expected.”

In a statement to MobileSyrup, YouTube said it would continue growing the program.

“It’s still early, and we’re focused on bringing together creators, viewers, and advertisers to grow the Shorts ecosystem. As we invest in Shorts we expect creator earnings to continue to grow. With Shorts ad revenue sharing, we’re committed to building a long-term partnership where creators can directly share in the platform’s success,” a YouTube spokesperson said.

Image credit: YouTube