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  • Meerelle Cruz

YouTube Tests Opening to Shorts Direct for Users That Regularly Engage with the Option

This might be a fascinating and even transformative change.


As TikTok's popularity grows, nearly every social media platform is experimenting with its short-form video variation to capitalize on emerging consumer trends and keep in touch with users. Facebook offers Reels, which is available on Instagram as well as in the main app, and Snapchat has Spotlight, which allows creators to earn bonuses based on the performance of their video. And there's YouTube Shorts, which already has billions of daily views on the app.

And now, YouTube appears to be putting even more emphasis on Shorts, as evidenced by this new test. If you're in the experiment and close the YouTube app while watching Shorts, you'll be redirected to the Shorts player when you reopen the app (for direct access). If you exit the YouTube app while viewing anything other than Shorts, you won't be redirected to Shorts when you return the app.


Shorts would become the main emphasis for customers who use the feature frequently, with the app opening to a full-screen, never-ending feed of Shorts clips, similar to TikTok. The experiment highlights TikTok's growing influence on broader app development trends, with users growing acclimated to TikTok's engaging, active stream of material that keeps them browsing and engaged to the app for extended periods.


While the test is only available to "a small number of viewers using mobile devices," the experiment's broader impact and ramifications might be considerable, both in terms of driving YouTube's development focus and likely the development of comparable capabilities in other apps as well. Instagram is the most likely contender here, as it has already stated that Reels is now the app's "biggest contributor to engagement increase."


Given Reels' popularity and parent company Meta's increased drive to attract back younger viewers, it would make sense for Instagram to open up to a full-screen Reels feed instead of the conventional Instagram post stream in the future. That's where I expect Instagram to go in the future, with users who regularly engage with Reels and Stories having their versions of the app open to either of these streams instead, dropping people into a more engaging, scrolling feed of content to keep them in the app and consuming more with ever-increasing frequency.


Instagram's CEO, Adam Mosseri, has stated repeatedly that the app will lean more heavily into video in the future, and this appears to be the most logical step – and it might easily follow YouTube's lead in this regard, by opening Reels to people who have previously exited the feature.


In any case, if you enjoy the short-form video, you're in luck because you'll be seeing a lot more of it in the future. It's incredible to think of TikTok's effect in this regard, but with more and more people gravitating toward the format, it's only natural for these other, competing applications to try to meet that need where they can, with tests and features like these. However, it is crucial since it alters the nature of YouTube to some extent.


As previously stated, the test is just restricted for the time being, but it could be a preview of what's to come on YouTube and Instagram in general.


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