Quantum Brief

EXCLUSIVE: What moves India has the potential to shape the world, says YouTube's Ajay Vidyasagar

Ajay Vidyasagar, Regional Director, APAC, YouTube Partnerships, on Shorts’ story in India and more.

By  Tasmayee Laha RoySep 29, 2022 2:56 PM
EXCLUSIVE: What moves India has the potential to shape the world, says YouTube's Ajay Vidyasagar
"No creator says that I want to be a short-form creator or a long-form creator. They want to be storytellers and they want to express themselves and tell their stories in different forms," says Vidyasagar.

Two years ago, YouTube introduced Shorts in India. Today, Shorts are generating 30 billion views per day, which is four times more than one year ago. Ajay Vidyasagar, Regional Director, APAC, YouTube Partnerships, says the language platter and the content genre is only growing in the market and Shorts is fueling the growth. He also talks about monetization on the platform and more.

Edited excerpts.

Shorts completed two years in India. How has it been? And what has the growth story been like from where you started to where you are now?

YouTube as a platform is over 14 years old in India. When we got started, our primary mission was to democratize video creation. Until that point, the world really saw storytelling as being the forte of a few. Our goal was to really, truly, truly democratize this in a manner that anyone who is interested in sharing a story should be able to share it. Our role in that was to use technology to take out all the friction in the operationalization of it and help good stories to be discovered, consumed and engaged with. That is really what we’ve been able to do in scale over these many years.

YouTube Shorts was announced two years ago; we flagged that off in India. The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) program was only available and enabled for long form and mid form content. So, we launched a YouTube Shorts fund, in which we worked closely with content creators to help them see a line of revenue for their work.

While we see a lot of entertaining content on the platform, what is the kind of interest you have seen brands? Are brands using Shorts like they are using other UGC platforms for integrations? Help us understand with some examples.

YouTube has enabled so many different formats to co-exist and speak to one another: long form videos, snappy Shorts, livestreams and deep dive podcasts. Advertisers can, therefore, choose to talk to their target audiences- in as many forms of stories, across as many devices, as many languages and as many times a day - effectively and at scale.

YouTube Shorts are generating 30 billion views per day globally. India was the first country where we launched Shorts and we’re proud of how quickly YouTube Shorts have become popular in India. Brands are starting to see results too. For instance, Oreo, which started its very first Shorts Challenge in Tamil Nadu with 10 of our top creators in the market to launch Oreo Double Stuf during Pongal last year. With 8 million views on their content, the brand was able to build salience in the market, improving branded searches and household penetration in a key market for them.

How important is India as a market for YouTube when it comes to Shorts? How does it compare to other markers?

We saw the great potential and engagement short form content has for today’s increasingly mobile viewer. That’s why two years ago, we introduced YouTube Shorts, first in India, to make it easier to watch and create short-form content on YouTube. It was where our journey began, and it’s encouraging to see the adoption and excitement the product brings to both creators and viewers.

We truly believe that what moves India, has the potential to shape the world. Digital video has become a gateway to the world for millions of Indians. In particular, short form video, which is easy to consume and create, represents opportunity like no other - to be entertained and inspired, to learn and earn, to connect and grow.

When we introduced Shorts, we knew that we were bringing an important new format for creators and that our creators are leveraging Shorts to help breathe new life into their existing channels or inform a new content and engagement strategy is testament to their creativity.

We’re constantly impressed that creators are getting really innovative with how they use the full breadth of video formats that YouTube offers to meet their personal and business goals: from growing views and subscribers, reaching out to new audiences and growing their earning potential.

Shorts has helped capture the interest and imagination of mobile-first creators and viewers who from whom a smartphone is a window to a world of opportunity. In India, Shorts is lowering the barriers for under-represented voices to come to the fore and pursue their passions; many of whom may otherwise have not had a platform to do so. We’re seeing creators across languages, socio-economic backgrounds and even India’s hinterlands turn to Shorts to share their passions, grow their channels and build successful careers.

Shorts has introduced a new monetization format. Please help us understand how it will benefit the platform and the creators?

We recently unveiled the next chapter in rewarding creativity on the platform by expanding the platform’s monetization system, YPP, to allow more creators to join the program, introducing new ways for creators to earn revenue through Shorts, and re-imagining the music industry and creator dynamic by opening up ads monetization for those who feature music in their videos.

Starting in early 2023, Shorts-focused creators can apply to YPP by meeting a threshold of 1000 subscribers and 10 million Shorts views over 90 days. These new partners will enjoy all the benefits YPP offers, including ads monetization across Shorts and long-form YouTube videos. This is another option to the existing criteria where long-form creators can still apply to YPP when they reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. Creators can choose the one option that best fits their channel while YouTube maintains the same level of brand safety for advertisers. To support creators who are early in their YouTube journey, YouTube will also introduce a new level of YPP with lower requirements that will offer earlier access to Fan Funding features like Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Stickers and Channel Memberships.

To reward the new creative class, beginning in early 2023, we’ll be moving away from a fixed fund and doubling down on a unique revenue sharing model for Shorts for both current and future YPP creators. Because ads run between videos in the Shorts Feed, every month, revenue from these ads will be added together and used to reward Shorts creators and help cover costs of music licensing. From the overall amount allocated to creators, they will keep 45 percent of the revenue, distributed based on their share of total Shorts views. The revenue share remains the same, no matter if they use music or not.

YouTube Shorts came to India at a very opportune time. It came right when UGC was becoming very popular and the market was expanding beyond metros. Throw some light on how you managed to gain footing in the Bharat market?

When you look at all of the digital platforms in the country, YouTube is fueled by voice, video and vernacular. So, because of that, the innate ability for the platform to go to every nook and corner of the country, and be understood, be loved, and be engaged, is very natural. It actually is the easiest form of communication that somebody can get on the digital connected platform.

We started off with a predominantly English language journey and then Hindi language content started to take off from India’s metro cities. If you remember, back in the day a lot of our creators were comedy centric and from urban centers.

Now in the last five to seven years, two very big things have happened with YouTube. The content creation has gone into the heartland of Hindi speaking markets. Hindi has become far more reflective of the evolving user base that has happened. Now it’s no longer a metro phenomenon.

We’re also seeing a host of other languages also doing very well on YouTube. Telugu and Tamil continue to be heavy-use cohorts for us. The richness of the language space has been unbelievable for us. From Punjabi, Haryanvi, Bhojpuri, Bengali, to Marathi, Gujarati, there is just an extraordinary breadth of languages. Shorts has helped these markets as well. We have seen extraordinary volume from these language markets.

Ours is a journey that is really about going wider and deeper and Shorts is helping us fuel that in even more in a significant manner.

Platforms that offer both long form and short format content often see the latter stealing all the limelight. Have you noticed any such pattern?

No creator says that I want to be a short-form creator or a long-form creator. They want to be storytellers and they want to express themselves and tell their stories in different forms. We might think about telling a story today that may need 10 or 20 minutes but tomorrow, we may have a story that may shine in 30 seconds.

Our role as a platform is to give a very versatile toolkit that can help a creator succeed in every format. That’s the core of what we do. When you think about video creation, our job is to give a toolkit that helps any video creator, do what they want to do, and express themselves with the least amount of friction. We do believe that both creators and users do not ever say that I’ll only consume a story, if it is, of this size or this form. They actually want a powerful story. The ability to have that sort of freedom with scale and the best technology is really what we do. That’s what we’re focused on. That’s what we’ll always be focused on.

What are your future plans for the offering? What are the top priorities when it comes to new plans for Shorts in India in FY-23?

Shorts is a natural evolution for us: YouTube Shorts is a new way to create and watch short, mobile videos. If you think about YouTube’s earliest days, we launched with a short 18-second video, ‘Me at the Zoo’. What changed since then is how easy it’s become to create and watch short-form videos. We wanted to make it even easier for people to create short videos on YouTube using their phones, so Shorts is a natural evolution for us.

We’re building features that are unique to YouTube. We’re bringing all short-form video to YouTube, and all of YouTube to short-form video in a really significant way. There are billions of videos on YouTube - by unlocking those videos for features like remixing so people can sample from those in their own Shorts, we’re creating a real playground of creativity like never before. We have the ability to connect multiple ecosystems - YouTube as we know it today, YouTube Music, and now YouTube Shorts. You can imagine what this might look like in the future - it will allow people to connect more deeply with the content, creators, and artists they’re most interested in. This truly is just the beginning.

First Published on Sep 28, 2022 3:22 PM