By Kendra Clark | Senior Reporter

August 10, 2021 | 4 min read

YouTube has kicked off one of its biggest brand campaigns ever. It is designed to attract Gen Z eyes to its new mobile-first, short-form content offering YouTube Shorts and stars some of the biggest music artists in the world. In a series of videos, the campaign demonstrates how easy it is for young creators to make their own Shorts using music from today’s top musicians.

YouTube, which saw the greatest surge of any social media platform among American users during the pandemic, per recent Pew Research data, is aiming to extend its growth streak by going big with a star-studded campaign for YouTube Shorts. The company has dubbed the campaign, which is sets its crosshairs squarely on TikTok, one of its biggest brand marketing efforts to date.

YouTube Shorts is the social media titan's answer to TikTok and a direct attempt to lure Gen Z to the Google-owned platform. YouTube Shorts is promoted as an accessible, user-friendly means by which to create content on YouTube; users can create videos on their mobile devices and upload directly to YouTube in a few clicks.

The global campaign, launched today, introduces and educates users about YouTube Shorts, the platform’s new short-form content offering. It stars some of today’s top musical artists and acts including BTS, The Weeknd, Doja Cat and Camila Cabello. In the videos, aimed at attracting the attention of Gen X users and creators, audiences get a peek into how to create Shorts overlaid with popular music.

Going shorter makes strong strategic sense, says Mike Allton, a social media influencer and head of strategic partnerships at social media management platform Agorapulse. “The average YouTube video is over 11 minutes long. That’s a time commitment many casual users aren’t going to make today. That’s fine if it’s a video that’s answering a question or fulfilling a need, but when someone’s just looking to kill some time between meetings or while standing in line, these days they turn to short-form video darlings TikTok and Instagram.”

Allton says that YouTube is uniquely well-suited to change the game. By pairing its established video capabilities, massive reach (the platform has over two billion logged-in users each month and many more casual viewers) and flourishing creator partnership programs, YouTube “has the potential to grab market share from TikTok and Instagram and put damper on Twitter and Facebook’s hopes for the same,” he says.

The effort builds upon YouTube’s recently-announced $100 million Shorts fund, a fund that will be distributed throughout 2021 and 2022 to creators publishing YouTube Shorts on the site. The fund incentivizes all creators — not only those who belong to the YouTube Partner Program — meaning that any user publishing original Shorts are eligible to cash out.

The marketing initiative is likely to help stoke the flames around YouTube Shorts, which are already performing well. Originally launched in the US and India markets only, Shorts is now available in more than 100 countries around the world. The platform’s parent company Alphabet reported in its Q2 earnings that YouTube Shorts has now surpassed 15 billion daily views.

"YouTube Shorts gives everyone the opportunity to have all the fun of short form video in a way that can only be done on YouTube,” said Jodi Ropert, vice president of YouTube Marketing in a blog post published today. “In one of our biggest brand marketing campaigns to date, we are leaning into 'the shorter side of YouTube' to show just how easy and fun it is to watch and make YouTube Shorts. Anyone can create Shorts using music from today’s leading addition to other videos only on YouTube.”

The campaign will roll out across YouTube, YouTube TV and will include a number of placements across social channels including Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram.

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