TikTok vs. YouTube: Watch Time Favors Big T

In the ongoing TikTok vs. YouTube battle, short apparently beats long in the watch time game.

According to an App Annie analysis, TikTok now beats YouTube in terms of Android watch time in the US and the UK.

  • TikTok users in the US watch an average of 24 hours of content per month. In comparison, US YouTube users, on the other hand, watched 22 hours and 40 minutes.
  • TikTok users in the UK watched an average of 26 hours of video per month. On YouTube, that figure was only (“only”) 16 hours.

Limitations of this report

This report only looked at Android users. We haven’t seen the iOS data yet, but we would expect it to be similar.

TikTok heating up as a marketer’s go-to social platform

If you’ve been wondering why every major social media platform is trying to imitate TikTok, here’s your answer: attention

YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels are copycats of the short-form popularized by TikTok.

This study backs this up with hard numbers.

But it also depends on how the idea is modeled.

Quibi, for example, failed.

YouTube Shorts launched in the US on March 18, 2021.

In just the first nine months after launch, the platform delivered over 5 trillion views and continues to have a daily view count of over 15 billion.

While Google search advertising still brings in Google about 5x more revenue than YouTube advertising, that trend is shifting more in favor of video.

Pick your battles carefully

While TikTok has more watch time than YouTube, YouTube has three times the number of viewers.

Furthermore, if you do Shorts, YouTube is very generous with organic reach.

TikTok is more hit-or-miss, though accounts with low followers can go viral, which is much harder to do on YouTube.

Our advice for marketers

Consider all of these factors before deciding on which social network to focus on.

YouTube tends to have a more “serious” audience depending on the niche, so it might be easier selling something like medical equipment on YouTube. That would be almost impossible on TikTok.

For products that are fun and entertaining and more geared toward a Gen Z audience, TikTok should be a better bet.

Like any platform, there is some level of overlap.

YouTube now has more options for displaying your product feeds

Did you know: 70 percent of YouTube viewers say they bought something after seeing it on YouTube.

To that end, YouTube has announced that you will be able to display your product feeds in more video campaign types. More specifically, awareness and consideration campaigns.

Explain feed ads to me like I’m five

Say you’re watching a video on YouTube. Before the video starts, a 5-second video ad appears.

With this feature, you can display a list of products below the video ad.

According to Google, advertisers who add product feeds to their video action campaigns receive more than 60 percent more conversions at a lower cost.

Which is good enough (at least for us) to persuade us to give this “product feeds” option a shot.

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