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Video content is one of the leading consumed media types worldwide. There are two main players in today’s video world that brands and creators should compare: TikTok vs YouTube.
YouTube changed the internet when it came out in 2005. By introducing a new stream of content, viewers initially engaged on the platform by watching and sharing viral videos. Through its evolution, YouTube is now a platform that supports a wide range of creators, including vloggers (video bloggers), gamers, how-to-ers, and more.
As YouTube evolved, so have other video-sharing sites, such as TikTok. TikTok has revolutionized the way we view video content, and just like YouTube, it has supported a new wave of online personalities and influencers. Although they are both in the video content world, there are some differences brands and/or creators should consider before diving into one platform or the other. Let’s compare TikTok vs YouTube to understand some of those differences.
Short Form Content vs Long Form Content
One of the main differences in the TikTok vs YouTube debate is the length of their video content. TikTok introduced short form video content to users while YouTube has steadily offered long form video content.
Google Ads defines short form videos as less than 10 minutes and long form videos as more than 10 minutes. Although this is a general statement, the defined length of video content can be subjective.
TikTok is THE platform for short form video content. When it first started, creators had the option to post videos that were either 15 or 60 seconds long. Even more recently, TikTok has incorporated a three-minute video option, allowing creators to elaborate further on their creative endeavors.
Short form content is a great tool for capturing our already short attention spans. By having a time crunch, creators and brands have to formulate the most efficient way to get their message across. This drives a marketing approach to focus on timeliness, which is key in making impressions. Short form videos have greater ease to be watched and shared as viewers absorb information quickly, and can replay or scroll without pressure.
On the flip side, with great success, YouTube is on to something with their long form content approach. Despite the claim that our attentions are shrinking, long form content is proven to grab the audience’s attention just as successfully, if not more.
The difference here is that when viewers search for long form videos, they are intending to engage with videos for a longer time. With viewers being more locked into what they’re watching, they have a higher engagement rate, creating longer-lasting impressions for your brand or content.
Additionally, long form video content can benefit from SEO practices the same way any other written content does. And with YouTube being the second largest search engine in the world, right behind Google, making use of this platform is as enticing as ever.
Check out this breakdown of the best SEO practices for YouTube.
After you have defined your target audience, it’s time to define your campaign strategy. Just as video length differs on TikTok vs YouTube, so do their campaign strategies.
When strategizing content or ads on TikTok, it’s all about paying attention to and following the trends. Songs and audios are one of the biggest trending features, filters are proving to be a powerful force as well, and you can’t forget about those #challenges. With so many choices and ever-changing crazes, the potential to find a trend (or create one) to pair with your brand’s marketing strategy is endless. You just have to be ready to dive in at any moment.
By recognizing these trends, brands and creators have the option to use organic strategies to promote themselves on their own profiles. For example, Scrub Daddy takes advantage of TikTok’s trendy platform to market their brand, generate brand awareness, and boost sales. Their playful energy makes use of current trends, product information highlights, and even promoting new merchandise.
With this trending audio from Bob’s Burgers in May, Scrub Daddy’s comedic approach to connect with audiences did so well it generated 6.9M views, 1.1M likes, and nearly 2k shares.
Scrub Daddy explains why a consumer should try their product by highlighting three product facts. Generating 2.2M views, almost 400k likes, 5K comments, and nearly 3k shares, they certainly burst some bubbles with this one.
In this TikTok, Scrub Daddy shows off their most recent product, the cart daddy. This video generated over 2.5 million views, nearly 500k likes, 3k comments, and 11.2k shares. Not too shabby.
Brands can also use paid ad promotions on TikTok, using the platform to their advantage. Various ad types are listed below.
- TopView Ads: These ads are placed on the landing page, the moment you open the app. TikTok describes this as “prime real estate” for marketers as they are the longest-running ad TikTok will play (up to 60 seconds).
- Brand Takeover: Just like TopView ads, brand takeovers can appear when users open the app, or they can show up on the for you page. TikTok only promotes one brand a day, giving brands exclusive rights to screen time for 24 hours.
- In-Feed Ads: In-feed ads get their limelight while viewers are scrolling, grabbing their attention between regular placed content. This is also where you’ll see those important call to action buttons.
- Branded Hashtag Challenges: Brands can create their own hashtag to be promoted on the platform, enticing users to engage in challenges. If done right, these types of challenges have a high chance of going viral.
- Branded Effects: Marketers can pay to have TikTok create filters to be used over a creator’s videos. And just like the hashtag challenge, it can gain viral exposure.
Since YouTube is a leading search engine, its videos are easily discoverable. This means that content can be searched and found much easier than on TikTok. This allows YouTube’s content to have a longer life cycle. By having this longer life cycle, trends are easier to predict and have a larger window of opportunity to grab.
When it comes to paid ads, YouTube offers a range of ad strategies just like TikTok. Here are five different kinds of ads YouTube offers.
- Skippable Ads: These ads are placed either at the beginning of a YouTube video or somewhere in between. The modern-day “cut to commercial break” if you will. These ads run for a few seconds before users can decide to keep watching or to skip them.
- Non-Skippable Ads: Just like skippable ads, non-skippable ads are placed in the beginning or in between videos. However, the catch here is there isn’t a skip option.
- Non-Video Ads: When watching a video, these ads will pop up either directly on top of the video or on the right-side toolbar, above the next suggested videos.
- Bumper Ads: This type of ad is non-skippable and played at the start of a video. What makes this unique is it runs for only six seconds.
- Discovery Ads: These ads play into the idea that YouTube is a search engine. When users search, these ads will appear on the results page of that search.
Top Creators on TikTok
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Top Creators on YouTube
Top 3 Videos on TikTok
Top 3 Videos on YouTube
|“Baby Shark Dance” by PinkFong
|“Despacito” by Luis Fonsi (ft Daddy Yankee)
|“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
Call to Actions: TikTok vs YouTube
A call to action is just what it sounds like- it’s a tool used to invite viewers to take action (i.e. a click here or buy now button). In-video ads, this is usually an overlay that appears after the first few seconds of a played video. By popping up after a viewer is watching, it captures attention in hopes of encouraging action.
TikTok has recently begun experimenting with its own call to action buttons. When ads are run, the usual overlay appears after the video starts. This is either an internal or external link to promote engagement for brands within their ads.
YouTube is no stranger to incorporating call to actions, as they allow the option for both brands and creators to make use of this tool. Ads can incorporate an overlay during their airtime, directing viewers to their site or product. Creators, on the other hand, can include their own call to action with the all-familiar “don’t forget to subscribe” banner displayed within their videos.
Brand Strategies: TikTok vs YouTube
In 2019, Elf created a powerful campaign on TikTok by composing their own song. “Eyes, Lips, Face”, which is an acronym of the brand, and went viral across the platform. And not just your average joe played around with the sound. Big name influencers like Jessica Alba, Patrick Starr, and Josh Richards had fun with it too.
Chipotle is infamous for their boorito deal every Halloween, where if you dress up in a costume and head to chipotle, you can get a burrito for $4. In their 2019 campaign, Chipotle created a hashtag challenge (#boorito) that dared users to share a before and after of them dressing up and snagging their bargain burrito. This was such a successful idea, it resulted in 4 billion views for the brand.
Each of these brands took a unique approach with their campaign strategies by making use of different ad features TikTok has to offer. However, one thing they have in common is taking a fun, light-hearted approach to a challenge that is easy to participate in for both users and big-name influencers.
Poo-Pourri offered a fresh scented take to their YouTube campaign strategy with their Girls Don’t Poop ad. This awkwardly hilarious bit generated 44m views since 2013. These ads were run within various videos across the platform, as well as on their own profile.
Audible pumped out an ad campaign in 2015 that partnered the brand with top YouTube creators, like PewDiePie. By having creators share the books they listened to on Audible at the start of their usual content, it created an authentic and genuine approach to their promotion. This partnership gave Audible over 83 million views (over 20million from PewDiePie alone), making it quite successful in getting viewers to hear them out as a brand.
Both companies went after the benefit of using YouTube’s long form content to capture audiences and promote themselves. Poo-Pourri took a more traditional approach by creating a classic paid ad with YouTube, and Audible went for a more modern approach by partnering with creators. Both brands went in with a candid attitude and a touch of humor to connect with audiences to drive results.
Industry Spending on TikTok vs YouTube
Since paid advertising on TikTok is relatively new, there’s not much data on brand and industry spending just yet. However, there are already some success stories of companies whose advertising on TikTok has paid off.
To promote their new movie “The House with a Clock in its Walls” in 2018, Universal Pictures created a hashtag challenge #FindYourMagic. It encouraged users to share magical TikTok takes based on their own creations. And with the help of 10 big creators on the platform, they were able to bring in 1.3 million likes, 19,000 user-made tik toks, and 11k new followers.
- Balenciaga invested in a TopView ad with TikTok that targeted UK, France, and Italy audiences. This campaign struck success with 25M views and 4.5M clicks to their landing page. With additional reports stating it created a personal connection between the brand and consumers.
To give you an idea of how much it costs to run an ad through TikTok, you can read more here.
YouTube has been a long-standing platform for advertisers and is on the way to outbidding traditional TV ads. Below are some of the top brands advertising on YouTube today.
According to research, Apple Inc was the largest advertiser on YouTube in 2020-2021. They spent over $237 million in advertising. This generated 19.77 billion in ad revenue for the platform. Disney follows close behind, shelling out $177 million to advertise, resulting in 9.8 billion impressions.
Check out our weekly list of top spenders on YouTube here.
YouTube caters to a different approach when it comes to ad spending. Instead of paying a larger sum upfront, YouTube requires brands to pay per engagement (click or view). With no minimum required spending, you can take advantage of investing as little or as much as you want.
The differences TikTok vs YouTube have to offer can benefit your brand/content in unique ways. Going in either direction, it’s clear they are both powerhouse platforms that can assist in transforming your marketing strategies. Which route will you take?