YouTube, which launched Shorts two years ago, boasts 30 billion views a day globally on the short video platform, but Indian content creators say monetisation opportunities have been limited.
Creators see the ad revenue sharing model announced by YouTube recently as a way of easing monetisation. The platform said that it will offer 45 percent of the advertising revenue it earns from India to its creators.
For creators, it's not just an opportunity to grow, but also a way of earning a stable income without having to depend on branded content, said Dhruv Shah, founder of Funcho Entertainment, a YouTube Channel. Shah's Shorts channel has 2.94 million subscribers.
Many creators do not earn money regularly through brand deals, said Kunal Kishore, co-founder and chief operating officer, ClanConnect, an influencer marketing firm.
"Around 90 percent of this revenue goes to just the top 10 percent of creators," he added.
Until now, YouTube Shorts has not been monetisable because the platform did not share ad revenue, said creator Sharan Hegde.
"It (revenue) was very minimal for someone who makes a Short. This (ad revenue share) will encourage more content creators to start out with Shorts," he said.
The Shorts bonus, through which YouTube rewards content creators, is periodic and is not regular income, finance content creator Anushka Rathod said.
"So, we’re awaiting ads which are a relatively stable source of income," she said.
YouTube Shorts Fund is a $100 million fund and channels that qualify for the bonus can earn anywhere between $100 and $10,000 every month, said Hitarth Dadia, partner and chief marketing officer, Nofiltr Group.
"But it gets a little tricky as the eligibility of short video content's performance to qualify for the bonus depends on several factors, which may change every month," Dadia said.
This makes creators dependent on brand collaborations to earn money. But Rathod said brand deals on Shorts haven’t paid too well compared to other platforms.
While brand deals for creators with a big following is on par with platforms like Instagram Reels, not all creators on Shorts are able to attract advertisers.
"A small creator might have to start with about Rs 2,000 a month and a big creator could end up with Rs 50 lakh a month too. It all depends on the number of collaborations they (creators) get and how much they charge for it on the basis of their subscribers and average views," said Bitesh Singh, founder and Chief Executive Officer, SocioClout.
Short video platform Moj sees its top creators earn up to Rs 3-5 lakh a month.
Marketers pointed to the wide range of earnings of creators on Shorts.
"The average monthly income of big to small creators on YouTube Shorts can range from Rs 5-7 lakh to Rs 30,000–40,000," said Vaibhav Pathak, co-founder of TGB Troop.
Average creators on Short earn around Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh per month, noted Dhruv Modwil, founder, Nocturnal Media.
"Creator with less than 1 million subscribers can't do much because they won’t get advertisers. For bigger short creators, brands get in touch with them directly, especially for the technology category, but other genres don't get many campaigns. Around 95 percent creators are not monetising content and those who are, are getting less money," said Arun Prabhudesai, founder, Armoks Media.
This is where a share of ad revenue will make a difference, he said.
Limited monetisation opportunity
"Shorts is not that widely used. Also, there hasn't been much monetisation opportunity, either from brands or from platform. So, people didn't want to create content shorts,” said Shuchi Sethi, India Lead, AnyTag.
There may not be a huge chunk of Indian creators who only do YouTube Shorts, said Amit Mondal, founder, Pulpkey, an influencer marketing company.
"People who already post regular long-form content on YouTube are using the Short feature very aggressively," Mondal said.
Sethi added: "Shorts is not that prominent right now. But there is a huge chunk of brands that want to promote on the platform. There is a huge array of Tier III content creators who create content on Reels, but don't get enough brand collaboration. Shorts, through sharing ad revenue, will enable these creators to earn without being dependent on brands."
Creator Aditya Kumar thinks that the ad revenue could become a major contributor to a creator's overall income from Shorts.
"Depending on the popularity of a creator, it (ad revenue) could contribute as much as 50 percent to a YouTube Shorts creator's income. But it's essential to understand that this majorly depends on how well the viewers take to these ads," he added.
Unsure how the platform will still remain relevant to users, Shivam Agarwal, founder of Deckster.Live, an influencer marketing agency, said viewership may get affected.
"As someone who is used to scrolling through ad-free content on Reels, ads in between are going to make them sway from the platform (Shorts). It works for long-form content because the user’s intent to watch the video is higher," he added.
Shorts market share
While ads could be a concern for viewers of Shorts, Jag Chima, spokesperson of influencer marketing and talent management agency IPLIX, said ad revenue sharing with Shorts creators will mean creators from other platforms will flock to the opportunity in large numbers.
SocioClout's Singh said Instagram, followed by Shorts, command a big market share in the short video space."These two together hold about 70 percent of the market.
Homegrown apps like Roposso, Moj, Josh, MX Taka Tak and Chingari have manage to hold the rest of the market."
Marketers said that for Shorts, India is a big market. "Currently, India contributes around 10 percent of all Shorts video on the platform,” said Deckster.Live's Agarwal.
According to YouTube's analytics tools, India consistently dominates viewer statistics, noted Pulpkey's Mondal.
Upping the Shorts game
With Shorts sharing ad revenue, more creators are likely to up their Shorts game.
Influencer Isha Borah, who recently started creating content on Shorts, said the move by YouTube would be a motivating factor for content creators on the platform.
"While I have 1.2 million followers on Instagram, my YouTube channel has not grown much as I joined it pretty late. I love posting Shorts regularly on YouTube. So, this (ad revenue) seems like a great motivation factor."
Creator Drishti Sharma, who has 120,000 subscribers on Shorts, said: “We will see some more fresh faces once Shorts get monetised."
"Ad revenue encourages me because I had previously created Youtube Shorts and will now be much more active there,” said Youtuber and Digital Content Creator Sakshi Keswani.
Creator Kunwar Raj expects ad revenue to boost income going forward.
"We create 5-6 shorts a week and we get much better viewership on Shorts than long-form videos." For Raj, Reels on Instagram currently is a major revenue stream.
As a part of the move, a creator will double up on the financial value created through a particular short format content piece, said creator Prakhar Gupta."Currently creators from Tier II markets have a significant presence on YouTube, but this will slowly change and creators from metros will also start leveraging Shorts and this will lead to a wider spread of content across all markets," said Ayush Shukla, creator and founder, Finnet Media.