Why You Should Focus On YouTube Watch Hours To Get Monetized On YouTube?
- 07 Jun, 2023
Today, we’re tackling one of the most heated debates in the YouTube community: should you focus on watch hours or Shorts views to reach monetization on YouTube? n this post, I’m going to share my insights and explain why I believe focusing on watch hours is the optimal strategy for YouTube growth and reaching YouTube monetization.
While Shorts can certainly play a part in your overall YouTube strategy, relying on them to reach YouTube Monetization is likely a ‘very risky gamble. I personally would advise against trying to reach 10M Shorts views in the last 90 days. It’s like going to a casino. Short term thrill without much long term potential. Focusing on Watch Hours is the way to go for most creators. It’s easier, and it’s more interesting in the long run.
Choosing between Watch Hours and Shorts Views: Making the Right Decision
When trying to get monetized on YouTube, many creators find themselves at a crossroad. The requirement is either 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months or a whopping 10M Shorts views in the past 90 days. Either of these goals can seem daunting, but in my experience with YT Tracker and helping thousands of YouTubers grow their channels over the past few years, I have grown convinced that focusing on Watch Hours is better for the long term health of your channel.
The most important thing is not to get blinded by the numbers game, but rather to understand what these numbers truly represent: genuine viewer engagement, content quality, and audience loyalty.
If you’re serious about building content for YouTube, you know you’re in for the long game. In my view, there is a clear disconnect between YouTube Shorts and the world of micro attention span, and the creators’ goal to build a true connection with their fans.
The Importance of Time Spent by your viewers (aka Watch Hours) for the YouTube Algorithm
Understanding how the YouTube algorithm works can feel like trying to decipher an ancient language. It’s complex and constantly changing, but there’s one constant you can bet on - watch hours.
From the perspective of YouTube’s algorithm engineers, the goal is delivering the most relevant content to the appropriate audience, at the opportune moment - a process highly influenced by watch hours. Watch hours are a strong signal of engagement for YouTube. The more time people spend watching your videos, the more likely YouTube is to recommend them to others. This is the cornerstone of YouTube growth.
Consequently, a channel with high watch hours suggests that the content is engaging and valuable to viewers. This not only improves the chance of your videos being suggested to others but also contributes significantly to your channel’s overall growth and, ultimately, your journey to YouTube monetization.
On the other hand, Shorts views are less indicative of viewer engagement, mainly because Shorts are typically less than a minute long. It’s much easier for a viewer to commit to a 30-second clip than a 10-minute video, and YouTube knows this. YouTube Shorts are a response to the threat posed by TikTok & Instagram Reels, nothing more. But long form content is where the true value lies for both YouTube, creators and advertisers. YouTube knows it, but they are pushed around by the other players in the industry and forced to follow suit to keep their creators onboard.
Why Watch Hours Hold More Weight for YouTube, Creators, and Advertisers
In the world of content creation, the saying “quality over quantity” rings true. While Shorts may provide a quick boost in views, these views aren’t always indicative of an engaged and loyal audience. Here’s why.
Higher Advertising Revenue from Watch Hours
When it comes to monetizing your YouTube channel, watch hours are crucial. You’ll get more ad placement opportunities in longer videos. That will naturally translate into higher advertising revenue.
In contrast, Shorts, with their shorter duration, don’t offer much opportunity for ad placements. As a result, the potential for advertising revenue from Shorts is much less compared to longer videos. The Creator Fund is there to reward creators who make successful Shorts but the competition is so fierce that I truly doubt it’s worth the effort.
Building a Loyal Fanbase Takes Time
Building a loyal fanbase doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, consistency, and most importantly, quality content. By focusing on watch hours, you’re focusing on creating engaging, long-form content that provides value to your viewers. This not only helps in building a loyal fanbase but also contributes to the long-term success of your channel.
On the other hand, Shorts, with their quick, bite-sized content, may not be as effective in fostering a strong connection with your viewers. And while it’s possible to gain a quick burst of popularity with a viral Short, maintaining that level of popularity is another story altogether.
Greater Discoverability with Longer Videos
YouTube’s algorithm is more likely to suggest longer videos to its users. Why? Because it leads to longer session durations, which is one of the main goals of YouTube - to keep users on their platform for as long as possible. With longer videos, you not only have a higher chance of appearing in users' recommended feeds, but also a greater opportunity for viewer engagement.
In contrast, the discoverability of Shorts is limited mainly to the Shorts Shelf, which doesn’t contribute to your watch hours and doesn’t guarantee visibility. This is especially true if your channel is new or doesn’t have a large subscriber base.
While YouTube Shorts can tap into new audiences, they may not be the best long-term strategy for YouTube growth and monetization. Don’t forget that the journey to YouTube monetization is a marathon, not a sprint. So, focus on watch hours, build engaging long-form content, and watch your channel grow.
Why YouTube Shorts is the wrong strategy to get monetized on YouTube
It’s tempting to dive headfirst into YouTube Shorts, given their potential for rapid virality. However, it’s critical to consider the downsides of focusing primarily on Shorts for your YouTube Monetization.
Shorts Views are Inconsistent
One of the main drawbacks of Shorts is their inconsistency. While you might hit the jackpot and have a Short go viral, it’s equally likely that your Short may not perform as well as you’d hoped. This unpredictability makes it difficult to rely on Shorts for consistent growth.
Shorts May Attract the Wrong Audience
Shorts are fast and fun, designed for viewers looking for quick entertainment. If your goal is to build an engaged community of viewers who are genuinely interested in your content, Shorts might not be the best way to attract that audience. They may increase your view count, but those views may come from people who aren’t interested in your longer content, failing to contribute to your overall channel growth.
Shorts Views Don’t Translate to Watch Hours
Even if your Shorts accumulate millions of views, those views won’t count towards the YouTube Partner Program’s 4,000 watch hour requirement. YouTube has clearly distinguished Shorts views from regular views, and focusing on the former could distract you from the goal of accumulating watch hours.
Shorts Don’t Foster Deep Viewer Engagement
Shorts are not conducive to fostering deep viewer engagement. They’re more of a “quick-fix” entertainment option and don’t provide the same level of depth as longer videos. This makes it difficult to create meaningful connections with your viewers, which are crucial for long-term growth and YouTube Monetization. Keep in mind, after reaching YouTube monetization, initial earnings are typically low, necessitating significant watch hours to increase ad impressions and, subsequently, ad revenue.
A viral Shorts will only help you for 90 days
Imagine you do get a YouTube Shorts go viral and you rack up an astonishing 5M views on it! Great, now you have 90 days to get another 5 millions views with Shorts which isn’t going to be a walk in the park if you don’t get another Shorts reaching virality. As soon as your initial viral Shorts is older than 90 days, it won’t count as part of your Shorts Views Monetization Goal and you’ll pretty much be back to square one. With Watch Hours, any watch time stays valid for 365 days which gives you a lot more time to reach the goal. Most dedicated YouTubers, emphasizing content quality and actively promoting on social media to nurture a community of engaged fans, can typically achieve this within a few months, if not less, aiding in YouTube growth and eventual monetization.
Until next time…
I’ll leave you with this today. Next, I’ll provide some practical strategies on how to increase your YouTube watch hours and get closer to your goal of YouTube monetization. Stay tuned!