YouTube is promoting its short-form video offering YouTube Shorts with a global advertising campaign targeted at Gen Z users and creators, according to details emailed to Marketing Dive. It is one of the Google-owned platform's largest brand marketing campaigns to date.
Developed between YouTube's internal creative team and agency Interesting Development, the effort links Shorts to music culture with a lineup of high-profile artists including The Weeknd, BTS, Camila Cabello and Doja Cat. Ads emphasize the simplicity of posting through a create button.
A 30-second anthem video and several 15-second spots are running across YouTube properties and social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter. The significant paid media push for Shorts comes as YouTube contends with fiercer competition in the digital video space, particularly from TikTok.
YouTube is flexing its marketing muscle to get Gen Z on Shorts, a TikTok lookalike that the company has already invested $100 million into through a creator fund. Ads emphasize how easy it is to start posting to the portal through mobile, with a dedicated destination that hosts Shorts videos on the main YouTube app.
YouTube's aggressive strategy for Shorts has generated some wins on the engagement front: On a call discussing second-quarter earnings results in July, Google chief Sundar Pichai said Shorts, which is now available in more than 100 countries, already attracts more than 15 billion daily views.
But Shorts faces stiff competition, and not just from TikTok, which recently became the first non-Facebook mobile app to surpass 3 billion global downloads and has established a stronger foothold in desirable marketing areas like commerce. Snapchat and Facebook are similarly putting hefty resources behind their own copycats.
Snap has dished out heavy paydays to get creators to adopt its short-form video offering Spotlight. Spotlight's daily active users grew 49% in Q2, while average daily content submissions more than tripled over the period. Meanwhile, Facebook is tweaking Instagram to center more on video content as its TikTok riff Reels becomes the largest contributor to engagement growth. The social networking giant plans to invest $1 billion in creators on its core big blue app and Instagram through 2022.
YouTube is trying to differentiate Shorts by leaning into partnerships with artists like The Weeknd, whose new single, "Take My Breath Away," features prominently in the ads. A thematic focus on music comes as TikTok tries to diversify past its dance-video roots and court a wider range of users beyond Gen Z.
Consumer-facing campaigns have become a more important tactic for social media platforms as they try to build trust with a wary public and create interest in new tech. Snapchat last month kicked off its largest global marketing push ever, with out-of-home QR codes and ads touting the power of the Snapchat Camera and its augmented reality bells and whistles.