How Google's YouTube Taught the Internet That Short Means Big

LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) -- Google's (GOOG) YouTube popularized short-form videos a decade ago and turned itself into business that reportedly attracts billions of dollars of digital advertising.

Now, just about every media company producing entertainment is making three- to 15-minute long videos in hopes of engaging viewers and generating more revenue from digital advertising sales. Short-form videos, easily shared on social media, are all the rage.

"Media companies are really programming around mobile and trying to own the space that a lot of traditional TV companies own," said Gabrielle Rossetti, the director of strategy and innovation at Havas Media.

Google has never been a traditional media company, its primary focus being selling advertising around its ubiquitous search engine. But as Internet-based content becomes as important as anything on traditional TV, Google's model is being widely replicated.

And why wouldn't everyone want to follow Google's lead? It currently receives a full one-third of all digital advertising in the world, according to eMarketer. The company's total ad revenue last year totaled $59 billion.

At last month's NewFronts presentation to advertising buyers, Google rival AOL (AOL) rolled out a slate of short-form digital programming, including Making a Scene with actor and director James Franco, the Emmy award-nominated Park Bench with actor Steve Buscemi, and What to Watch with filmmaker Ricky Camilleri, a digest digest of everything video that's popular on the Web.

The aim: creating popular and sharable short-form video entertainment that has helped YouTube's biggest stars such as Hannah Hart command millions of subscribers.

Ad revenue from digital video advertising totaled $5.8 billion last year, according to eMarketer. That's a fraction of the nearly $70 billion television drew, but digital ad sales are expected to climb to $14 billion by 2019, eMarketer said, far outpacing the rate of growth for traditional TV.

Digital can also challenge television in sheer viewership as Hart's YouTube series, My Drunk Kitchen, has more than 2 million subscribers. Hart's homemade videos, in which she tipsily attempts to make dishes such as French toast or tacos, regularly reach audiences in the hundreds of thousands. It is also not uncommon for them rack up more than 1 million views.

Hart, 28, isn't even YouTube's biggest star. Tyler Oakley, a 26-year-old LBGT advocate and commentator, reaches nearly 7 million subscribers. Felix Kjellberg, a Swede known as PewDiePie who shot to prominence with humorous commentary to video games, has a whopping 36 million subscribers.

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