TikTok to Offer Longer Videos to Be to Grow Revenue

One of the statistics presented by TikTok in a private presentation to business clients in late January 2022 shows that the app’s users spend an average of one hour and 25 minutes on the app daily.  

The average TikTok user, constituting one billion worldwide more than 100 million in the U.S. and 23 million in the UK, opens the app to watch videos 17 times a day. As such, the decision to share longer videos will likely further increase TikTok’s market share, says the platform. Many reasons drive this decision, with the more direct one would be to compete with YouTube’s longer videos, given that these videos are the lion’s share of content on the site. 

“Longer form content allows TikTok to take on YouTube more directly,” TikTok says. “Given YouTube is the second largest search engine, even capturing a fraction of their viewership could have massive positive ramifications for TikTok.” 

The potential for more advertising revenue also drives the decision, Meg Jing Zeng, a TikTok researcher at the University of Zurich, noted.  

“The increase in traffic itself brings more profit, but longer videos themselves can be more lucrative,” she says.  

“For instance, it allows TikTok to work with institutional partners, including commercial, institutional partners, to produce content with product placement,” she notes.  

While the company doesn’t share its advertising income, Chinese reports claim TikTok earned $4 billion in ad revenue in 2021 alone.  

At the same time, long videos bring some risks, as it gives up one key factor that allowed TikTok to differentiate itself from competitive apps: its algorithmic advantage.  

By infusing users with different, shorter videos, the platform can gain more insights into users’ interests than more infrequent, longer ones.  

“You get more pieces of data on how people are interacting with more pieces of content,” says Hank Green, a veteran content creator and founder of VidCon.  

“That enables the algorithm to make better decisions,” he stresses.  

In parallel, if three-minute videos are watched till the end, the official offers 12 times fewer data than 15-second videos on TikTok.  

ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, considered that estimate and believes its algorithm is trained enough on user behavior by now not to require as much data to feed its predictions constantly.  

It is also worth mentioning that extending video length eliminates opportunities that could help commercials between shorter videos, which is a risk concerning the monetization goals the app is seeking.