While TikTok continues to rise, and other platforms eat into the digital video market, YouTube remains the overall leader in the space. And based on its current strategic planning and growth, it looks set to stay that way for some time to come.
Today, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has shared an overview of the platform’s key areas of focus for 2022, and where it sees new opportunities, which points to some interesting developments in the platform’s roadmap, and for online video more broadly.
Key elements of focus for YouTube include Shorts, its TikTok-like short video platform, which YouTube reports has now hit 5 trillion all-time views, underlining the potential of the format.
TikTok has become a key focus for YouTube, as it seeks to maintain its position as the online video leader. And while YouTube clearly remains the key app for longer content, TikTok’s burgeoning audience does pose a threat to its ongoing growth.
Which is why Wojcicki is also keen to highlight another key element:
“The number of channels around the world making more than $10,000 a year is up 40% year over year [while] YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported more than 800,000 jobs in 2020.”
There is a lot more potential for creators to make a lot more money on YouTube, as opposed to TikTok, which YouTube star Hank Green recently highlighted in a new video clip, in which he called on TikTok creators to band together to request a bigger slice of the platform’s growing revenue pie.
That call is already seeing some traction among high-profile users, and eventually, that could help to solidify YouTube’s position as the place to be for creators to monetize.
Which is a key benefit that Wojcicki wants to highlight:
“Now there are 10 ways for creators to make money on YouTube. Last year, YouTube Channel Memberships and paid digital goods were purchased or renewed more than 110 million times.”
That last point is also important – amid the ongoing rise of digital goods, and in particular NFTs, there are new opportunities for platforms to lean into the trend, and provide more ways to users to showcase their digital item purchases.
YouTube is also exploring its NFT options:
“The past year in the world of crypto, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and even decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) has highlighted a previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans. We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube.”
How that would work, it’s hard to say, but it seems that NFTs, whether you like them or not, are set to become a bigger element in the broader social media sphere.
Wojcicki also addressed the controversy around YouTube’s decision to remove dislike counts on clips, which has been widely criticized in some circles.
“We saw the dislike count harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively worked to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos. These attacks often targeted smaller creators and those just getting started. We want every creator to feel they can express themselves without harassment. So we experimented with removing the dislike count across millions of videos over many months. Every way we looked at it, we did not see a meaningful difference in viewership, regardless of whether or not there was a public dislike count. And importantly, it reduced dislike attacks.”
So while some users may find the removal annoying, and may want dislikes back, Wojcicki says that the overall impact has been overwhelmingly positive, so it’s unlikely to reverse course on its decision, at least at this stage.
Wojcicki also outlined evolving system developments, including advances in user safety tools and creator reporting functions, and the platform’s ongoing efforts to work with governments on new regulatory proposals, including the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Article 17 in the EU.
It’s a solid update, which underlines YouTube’s enduring strength, as it solidifies market share and becomes an even bigger connective element for users, through various means.
And YouTube clearly is in a strong position, even as potential rivals gain traction. Yes, TikTok is the app of the moment, while Facebook may have more overall users. But YouTube’s established frameworks and creator partnerships look set to keep it in the top spot for online video for some time to come.
There’s a reason why YouTube recently shut down its Originals initiative in order to put more focus on creator funding. And that could reap big benefits for the platform throughout the coming year.
You can read Susan Wojcicki's full overview for YouTube in 2022 here.