The YouTube-ification of TikTok is almost complete

TikTok wants to do longer videos. If it’s done right, that could bring in more ad revenue.


Moving forward with longer videos is a risk TikTok is willing to take, even if it means users will fast forward videos or skip longer clips entirely.

Image: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

TikTok knows how to get people hooked. But the platform still can’t generate the same kind of money creators can make on YouTube. Experts think its foray into 10-minute-long videos could change that.

The platform has gradually raised the maximum length of a video from 15 seconds, to one minute, to three minutes, and now to a whopping 10. Social media experts aren’t surprised by the uptick; the platform has still managed to keep users around, even as its videos get longer. Plus, longer video formats include more space for ad slots and let creators spend more time promoting products, allowing the platform to profit more from ads and shopping.

“Advertisers are going to want to spend somewhere where there's rapt attention, where they know their ads are going to be around long enough and considered long enough to be seen,” Margo Kahnrose, CMO at intelligent marketing platform Skai, told Protocol. “TikTok has struggled with that, whereas the other platforms that have longer-form content really just command so much focus. That advertising performs.”

Social media consultant Mari Smith said longer videos could let TikTok monetize much more like YouTube does. YouTube places ads at the beginning of or throughout a video, whereas TikTok places ads as individual, separate clips that a user scrolls through just like they would a regular video. Those pre- and mid-roll ads on YouTube have historically brought in more cash for creators: A recent Forbes study found that about half of the money earned by YouTube’s top 10 creators came directly from ad revenue, whereas many of TikTok’s highest-earning stars are making a lot of their money elsewhere.

TikTok already knows creators will stick around for longer videos, too. Some creators may post a multipart video and ask followers to visit their channel to watch the other segments. “But this solution is not as elegant as simply being able to create and publish longer videos,” Smith said.

TikTok has a history of getting people to buy products — #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt seems to be perpetually trending — and it has also used live events hosted by creators as a way to get people shopping. A longer format may help TikTok get even better, by allowing creators to form deeper relationships with their audiences, according to Ali Fazal, VP of influencer marketing software platform GRIN. Users want to get to know creators just like they would a friend, and longer videos allow those creators to appear more authentic when they’re trying to promote a brand.

“TikTok is seeing that maybe less people will watch a 10-minute TikTok than will engage with a 15-second TikTok, that's probably for sure,” Fazal told Protocol. “But the depth of those relationships is actually stronger between the audience and the creator. And if we're looking ahead at what's important, I think it actually is moving away from the number of followers or a number of impressions or number or clicks, and more toward the depth of the creator and their audience.”

Those relationships matter for brands, too. Over time, Fazal said that longer videos will make it harder to differentiate between an ad and a regular post because products will be placed more “seamlessly” in creators’ lives. “It opens up so many more opportunities for creativity between brand creator partnerships, going beyond the typical pay-to-post.”

Still, as everyone else tries to be like TikTok, the platform is clearly trying to be like YouTube — and encroaching on another platform’s image could hurt TikTok’s own reputation in the end, Kahnrose said. People have gone to YouTube for the product reviews and the long videos where they can really get to know creators for years. On the contrary, they go to TikTok for the easy, endless scrolling. Long videos might not change that, but it definitely won’t help its reputation as the place for short-form videos, she said.

TikTok knows it does exceedingly well with short-form video. In fact, an internal presentation last year found that half of users thought videos longer than a minute — the maximum length of a TikTok at the time — was stressful. But moving forward with longer videos is a risk TikTok is willing to take, even if it means users will fast forward videos or skip longer clips entirely.

“I do think they're totally at risk with this move, in losing what they stand for in this mix of social media apps that you have on your phone,” Kahnrose said. “What do you like TikTok for? It's going to be harder to answer that question.”


Google is wooing a coalition of civil rights allies. It’s working.

The tech giant is adept at winning friends even when it’s not trying to immediately influence people.

A map display of Washington lines the floor next to the elevators at the Google office in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Google has faced intensifying pressure from policymakers in recent years, it’s founded trade associations, hired a roster of former top government officials and sometimes spent more than $20 million annually on federal lobbying.

But the company has also become famous in Washington for nurturing less clearly mercenary ties. It has long funded the work of laissez-faire economists who now defend it against antitrust charges, for instance. It’s making inroads with traditional business associations that once pummeled it on policy, and also supports think tanks and advocacy groups.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Sustainability. It can be a charged word in the context of blockchain and crypto – whether from outsiders with a limited view of the technology or from insiders using it for competitive advantage. But as a CEO in the industry, I don’t think either of those approaches helps us move forward. We should all be able to agree that using less energy to get a task done is a good thing and that there is room for improvement in the amount of energy that is consumed to power different blockchain technologies.

So, what if we put the enormous industry talent and minds that have created and developed blockchain to the task of building in a more energy-efficient manner? Can we not just solve the issues but also set the standard for other industries to develop technology in a future-proof way?

Keep Reading Show less
Denelle Dixon, CEO of SDF

Denelle Dixon is CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation, a non-profit using blockchain to unlock economic potential by making money more fluid, markets more open, and people more empowered. Previously, Dixon served as COO of Mozilla. Leading the business, revenue and policy teams, she fought for Net Neutrality and consumer privacy protections and was responsible for commercial partnerships. Denelle also served as general counsel and legal advisor in private equity and technology.


Everything you need to know about tech layoffs and hiring slowdowns

Will tech companies and startups continue to have layoffs?

It’s not just early-stage startups that are feeling the burn.

Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

What goes up must come down.

High-flying startups with record valuations, huge hiring goals and ambitious expansion plans are now announcing hiring slowdowns, freezes and in some cases widespread layoffs. It’s the dot-com bust all over again — this time, without the cute sock puppet and in the midst of a global pandemic we just can’t seem to shake.

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.


Sink into ‘Love, Death & Robots’ and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Our favorite picks for your weekend pleasure.

Image: A24; 11 bit studios; Getty Images

We could all use a bit of a break. This weekend we’re diving into Netflix’s beautifully animated sci-fi “Love, Death & Robots,” losing ourselves in surreal “Men” and loving Zelda-like Moonlighter.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt

Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.


This machine would like to interview you for a job

Companies are embracing automated video interviews to filter through floods of job applicants. But interviews with a computer screen raise big ethical questions and might scare off candidates.

Although automated interview companies claim to reduce bias in hiring, the researchers and advocates who study AI bias are these companies’ most frequent critics.

Photo: Johner Images via Getty Images

Applying for a job these days is starting to feel a lot like online dating. Job-seekers send their resume into portal after portal and a silent abyss waits on the other side.

That abyss is silent for a reason and it has little to do with the still-tight job market or the quality of your particular resume. On the other side of the portal, hiring managers watch the hundreds and even thousands of resumes pile up. It’s an infinite mountain of digital profiles, most of them from people completely unqualified. Going through them all would be a virtually fruitless task.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Latest Stories