BAM Key Details:
- A Twitter thread by Paddy Galloway, sharing the results of a study on YouTube Shorts, answers important questions about this format—including what makes a Short viral, how much money they can make, and whether they’re actually good for growth.
- According to initial findings, Shorts can grow your YouTube subscribers, especially for YouTube creators with 1M+ subs. And while they’re not a huge money-maker right now, returns could improve over the next 12 months.
Twitter user Paddy Galloway conducted a study with his lead analyst Chris Gileta to decode the YouTube Shorts algorithm and find the answers to important questions—primarily these three:
- What makes a Short viral?
- How much money can Shorts make?
- Are they actually good for growth?
The first question they sought to answer was, “What length should my Shorts be?” or, more to the point, “What length of Shorts gets the most views?”
Here’s what they learned.
Takeaway #1: What video length gets the most views?
They started with the question, “What length should my Shorts be?” Looking at the shorts included in their study, they first broke them down according to length.
Based on this, most YouTube Shorts creators seem to prefer videos between 20 and 40 seconds long. But does this match up with the Shorts length with the best performance?
So far, their findings support a clear relationship between Shorts length and the number of views. On average, longer videos perform much better, with Shorts between 50-60 seconds getting the most views.
When we look at average view duration (AVD) and views, the gap gets even bigger. Shorts with an AVD longer than 50 seconds averaged 4.1 million views, compared to 1.8 million for Shorts with an AVD of 40-50 seconds (and those views shrink the shorter the AVD gets).
Revealing as these findings are, the big takeaway here isn’t just to make more long Shorts. Just ramping up your production of these longer Shorts won’t do you any good if they don’t hold your audience’s attention from start to finish.
Takeaway #2: YouTube’s new metric is worth tracking
The study also reviewed a new metric added by YouTube: the percentage of “Viewed vs. Swiped Away” (VVSA). Paddy included a graphic to provide an example:
Based on the study’s findings, the best-performing Shorts fell between 70% and 90% VVSA, while Shorts under 60% typically did not perform well.
That said, having a high percentage for VVSA does not guarantee growth for your channel.
Paddy and Chris recommend paying attention to this metric—and keeping it north of 60%—but not obsessing over it. It’s a metric worth tracking since a low VVSA suggests your Shorts aren’t giving viewers a reason to pause their scrolling and watch your video to the end.
Take a low VVSA (60% or lower) as a clue to work on your hooks and make those first few seconds compelling enough to grab your audience’s attention—and hold onto it.
As Paddy puts it, “Treat your video like a thumbnail.”
The YouTube Shorts algorithm in a nutshell
For YouTube creators trying to understand the Shorts algorithm, Paddy summed up their findings in these words:
YouTube will personalize recommendations of Shorts (i.e., look at watch history to see what someone likes) and show enjoyable Shorts that hold attention well to them. Simple.
That’s it, in a nutshell. But are Shorts really worth your time?
Takeaway #3: How effective are Shorts at growing your subscribers?
One of the metrics that interest YouTube Shorts creators is subscriber conversion. Paddy noted that a lot of video producers on YouTube credit Shorts as a “cheat code” for subscriber growth (himself included). But do the results of the study bear that out?
Actually, according to their initial findings, long-form videos, on average, still convert more subscribers (per 10,000 views) than Shorts.
That’s not the whole story, though.
When they focused on channels with over one million subs, Shorts had a better sub conversion rate than long-form. Paddy’s theory is that these channels, on average, make better Shorts that reach more people and include better calls to action.
Taking all this into account, Shorts are clearly an effective way to grow your subscribers, especially considering the smaller time and effort investment compared to long-form.
Paddy noted that sub counts are “not overly important in 2023, but everyone wants more!”
After all, as your subscribers grow in number, your income from YouTube videos is likely to grow along with it. Because more subscribers generally mean more views.
Takeaway #4: Can Shorts make a meaningful amount of money
Now, we get to the big question on many YouTube creators’ minds: Can Shorts generate a meaningful amount of money?
What income in RPMs ($ per 1,000 views) are YouTube creators seeing with their Shorts?
Another question Paddy addressed in his thread was the assertion some YouTube creators have made that the new Shorts split (as of February 1, 2023) is roughly the same or worse than the Shorts fund.
According to the study, while the RPMs for Shorts aren’t all that exciting, Paddy does see them as promising. And the new partner split, on average, is more than twice the Shorts fund. So, myth busted!
For now, six cents seems to be the average RPM, but Paddy expects that, with time, YouTube will probably improve this.
Another thing to note: unlike long-form videos, the length of YouTube Shorts doesn’t seem to make a meaningful difference in RPMs.
So, while Shorts aren’t huge money-makers (yet), the RPMs will likely increase over the next 12 months.
Top takeaways for real estate content creators
As the final takeaway from this study, Paddy answers the question, “Are Shorts worth it?” with a firm yes—as long as you can make high-quality Shorts without compromising the quality and quantity of your long-form content.
If your Shorts are taken from high-quality long-form videos, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Just keep an eye on your Viewed vs. Swiped Away percentage to see if your Shorts need stronger hooks. And keep in mind that while these findings hold true for the sample of Shorts used in the study, they may not be true for yours.
Track the same metrics, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different lengths to see which lengths, on average, get the most engagement for your brand.