YouTube Shorts vs. TikTok - The Battle Takes Shape

As everyone in performance marketing knows, TikTok is eating into Google and Facebook budgets – but the giants aren’t ceding ground quietly. 

Facebook released Reels a while back in response to TikTok’s short-form content domination. YouTube recently took a big step in the same direction by introducing creator monetization functionality of Shorts, which raises its standing as a competitor to TikTok ads. 

Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of TikTok vs. YouTube Shorts.

TikTok and YouTube Shorts both offer unique advertising opportunities for businesses. TikTok ads and YouTube Shorts ads may look similar at first glance, but there are key differences to consider when deciding which platform to use for your next advertising campaign.

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TikTok advantages

TikTok is famously engaging, especially for younger demographics, and that extends to its ad features. It’s also got more established ties with short-form video creators than YouTube does, though Google’s deep pockets might make inroads quickly. 

In general, TikTok enjoys these advantages over Shorts:


Large and engaged audience base

With an impressive 689 million active daily users, TikTok almost certainly engages some of your prospective customers. Not only are there a ton of active users, but they are spending significant time on the app. The average time spent on TikTok is 52 minutes per day, with sessions averaging about 10.85 minutes.

If your audience happens to include Gen Z, you’re in luck: 25% of TikTok’s audience base is age 10-19, which skews much younger than similar platforms. 


Opportunity for accounts of all sizes

TikTok’s ability to make your videos go viral even if you have no followers opens up a large pool of influencers to work with. If you are a brand looking to promote on TikTok, you can select an influencer with a large following who matches your branding goals. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, over 86% of marketers employ influencer marketing methods to enhance brand exposure and sales.

In general, following TikTok trends will make your ad appear more relevant to the app's algorithm and enhance the likelihood of it appearing in someone's "For You" feed. On TikTok, anyone, even brands, may spark trends and go viral. Businesses can utilize branded hashtag challenges and brand takeovers to increase participation and reach, whether through organic posts or through ads.


Creative options

TikTok has a wide range of creative options, including AR filters and effects, which can add an extra layer of engagement to your ads.



YouTube Shorts advantages

YouTube, meanwhile, enjoys a lot of advantages that come with being a) more mature; b) in the Google ecosystem. These include advanced reporting and targeting and powerful options to continue – and track – the customer journey within Google’s incomparable suite of platforms.


Audience scale – and favorable demographics

Despite the fact that TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media sites today, YouTube’s base of more than 2.1 billion members still dwarfs TikTok’s user base. And the audience skews older, which means B2C campaigns have more discretionary budget in reach, and B2B brands have a bigger base of professionals to target.


Advanced targeting

YouTube Shorts is still in its early stages, and its targeting options are not as comprehensive as TikTok’s – yet. However, it does have Google’s ecosystem to work with, which should mean deeper targeting options and audience insights for analyzing and optimizing campaign performance.


Straightforward creative

YouTube Shorts is less focused on AR filters/effects and tends to be more focused on delivering content in a concise and easy-to-digest format – which generally works well for B2B and select B2C verticals.




TikTok Ads and YouTube Shorts have their own strengths and weaknesses; the best platform for your business will depend on your specific advertising needs. 

If you are looking to reach a younger audience with creative and engaging ads, TikTok may be the right choice. If your focus is on delivering quick and impactful messages to a large audience, then YouTube Shorts may be the way to go. 

Regardless of which platform you choose, it is important to stay current on the latest trends and advancements in the short-form video advertising space. Subscribe to JDM Bytes to stay on top of all things digital marketing - using the form below!




Jordan Digital Marketing's B2b Guide to TikTok Ads

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