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YouTube Shorts Now Up to 30 Billion Daily Views, Ads in Shorts Now in Testing

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YouTube Shorts Now Up to 30 Billion Daily Views, Ads in Shorts Now in Testing

Of course, this was always coming, but this week, as part of its latest earnings report, Google has confirmed that it’s launched an initial test of ads running between YouTube Shorts clips, its TikTok-esque short-form video feed.

And that’s not all – according to Google, Shorts is now averaging over 30 billion daily views. That’s a significant increase from the 5 trillion all-time Shorts views that YouTube reported back in February, which underlines the rising popularity of short-form content, and why every platform is now making it a focus.

Shorts ads will provide another monetization pathway for the option, a key consideration for YouTube, because while more people watching more Shorts content is good, overall, for the app, more time spent in Shorts also means less time spent with its other, monetizable video clips.

Google also noted this in its earnings call, saying that it was ‘experiencing a slight headwind to revenue growth’ as Shorts viewership grows as a percentage of total YouTube time.

So really, YouTube has to monetize shorts, and fast, in order to dilute its impact on overall earnings, while it also needs to establish new pathways for Shorts creators to maximize their earnings potential, and you can’t directly monetize short-form video clips with mid and pre-roll ads.

That adds a level of complexity to short video monetization, something that Vine grappled with back in the day (which eventually led to its closure), and which TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are also working to solve right now.

The main option that they’ve leaned on thus far is dedicated creator funding pools, from which creators can then earn an allocation of fund share based on the performance of their Shorts clips.

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But that’s already proven problematic, with variable payouts and shifting incentives frustrating top creators, many of whom already earn big, reliable incomes from YouTube and Twitch, and are used to the established economics of online video streaming (which, it’s worth noting, may be changing on Twitch too).

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The risk here is that if these platforms can’t establish solid revenue pathways for their top stars, then eventually, much like what happened with Vine, those top creators will gravitate towards the platforms that do offer more stable, lucrative funding arrangements. Which will inevitably lead them to YouTube anyway, which pays out billions every year to creators via its YouTube Partner Program.

In this sense, Shorts can act as a supplementary promotional channel for your main YouTube feed, where you can make real money – and with that as a lure, and with Shorts views rising so quickly, YouTube stands as the biggest challenge to TikTok’s ongoing dominance in the space, even if it does seem that, right now, TikTok is almost too big to fail at this stage of the game.

But it could – while Google also notes that:

Over 40% of creators who received payment from the Shorts Fund in 2021 weren’t in the YouTube Partner Program.”

That’s a huge amount of new voices that are now being paid by YouTube for their Shorts content, and if YouTube can establish a clearer pathway to getting more of them paid, more often, that will inevitably lead to them sticking with YouTube as their key platform of choice.

Ads in Shorts is another element in this, providing another revenue pathway for the option, that YouTube can then funnel back into its creator funding process, or invest in additional ways to advance its revenue share models.

No one has ‘cracked the code’ as such on the best way to pay short-form creators, but YouTube’s system is far more advanced than others. Building a more sustainable ad process is another step in this evolution.

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‘Crime not to help’: South Korean ex-SEAL has no Ukraine regrets

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South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber Ken Rhee told AFP he has no regrets about his decision to fight in Ukraine

South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber Ken Rhee told AFP he has no regrets about his decision to fight in Ukraine – Copyright AFP Jung Yeon-je

Cat Barton and Kang Jin-kyu

A former South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber who risked jail time to leave Seoul and fight for Ukraine says it would have been a “crime” not to use his skills to help.

Ken Rhee, an ex-special warfare officer, signed up at the Ukrainian Embassy in Seoul the moment President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for global volunteers and was fighting on the front lines near Kyiv by early March.

To get there, he had to break South Korean law — Seoul banned its citizens from travelling to Ukraine, and Rhee, who was injured in a fall while leading a special operations patrol there, was met at the airport by 15 police officers on his return.

But the celebrity ex-soldier, who has a YouTube channel with 700,000 followers and documented much of his Ukraine experience on his popular Instagram account, says he has no regrets.

“You’re walking down the beach and you see a sign by the water saying ‘no swimming’ — but you see someone drowning. It’s a crime not to help. That’s how I see it,” he told AFP.

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Rhee was born in South Korea but raised in the United States. He attended the Virginia Military Institute and planned to join the US Navy SEALS, but his father — a “patriot”, he says — convinced his son to return to South Korea to enlist.

He served for seven years, undergoing both US and Korean SEAL training and doing multiple stints in war zones in Somalia and Iraq before leaving to set up a defence consultancy.

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“I have the skillset. I have the experience. I was in two different wars, and going to Ukraine, I knew I could help,” he said, adding that he viewed breaking South Korea’s passport law to leave as equivalent to a “traffic violation”.

– Backlash in Korea –

But the reaction in South Korea — where Rhee shot to fame as a trainer in the popular YouTube series “Fake Men” — was swift and unforgiving.

“It was instant. People in Korea, they just criticised me about breaking the law,” said Rhee.

His critics claim the 38-year-old’s decision was criminally irresponsible, and point to his posting of war footage on his YouTube and Instagram accounts as evidence of showboating.

Rhee says he tries not to let the furore get to him. “I think it’s pretty obvious who the good guys are and who the bad guys are,” he said of Russia and Ukraine. 

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On his first day on the frontline in Irpin — which he describes as “the Wild West” and “chaos” — he says he witnessed Russian war crimes.

“I saw a civilian get shot. He was driving… and they shot him through the windshield and he died in front of us,” he said.

“It was like: there’s my proof. There’s definitely war crimes going on. It reminded me and my teammates what we were doing and why we were there,” he said.

Because of his military training, Rhee was told to set up his own team, so he recruited other volunteers with combat experience and set up a multi-national special operations group.

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“I was eating Canadian MREs. My gun was from the Czech Republic. I have a Javelin missile from the United States. I have a rocket that’s from Germany… but nothing is Korean,” he said.

He tried to take his Korean-made night vision goggles but was not given government export permission. Seoul has provided non-lethal aid to Kyiv, but Rhee said they could do more.

“Korea has state-of-the-art equipment… they’re very good at making weapons,” he said.

– ‘See you in Taiwan’ –

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Russia said this week that 13 South Koreans had travelled to Ukraine — including four who were killed. Seoul said it was trying to verify the claims.

Although Rhee did not know the fate of all his teammates, he said “a lot of my friends have died”.

“I don’t want my friends’ sacrifices to be forgotten,” he said, adding that he plans to write a book — and maybe a screenplay — about his team’s experiences.

But first, he needs to deal with the official repercussions of his trip. He is quietly optimistic South Korea’s new conservative administration won’t put him in jail.

Rhee is not allowed to leave the country until his case is resolved, and is receiving treatment for his injuries. But he hopes one day to fight alongside his teammates again, for a cause they believe in.

The joke as people left the frontline was: “See you in Taiwan,” he said, referring darkly to the risk that Beijing will follow Moscow’s lead and invade a neighbouring democracy.

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