Beyond Impressions

Left Decor Right Decor

Short-form Video Players Set for a Showdown

Posted by Carrie Bishop on Aug 7, 2020 2:55:25 PM
Carrie Bishop


When it comes to marketing, content is king – but distribution is queen and the right channel matters. Smart marketers know to go where their target audience lives, learns and connects online. In the U.S. alone, 230 million people consume social media – and the competition for eyeballs is fierce, to say the least. TikTok is the it-app. Instagram wants its Reels to be the vanguard of viral video tomorrow. Or, wait, will it be YouTube’s Shorts? Or Bytes? Knowing which content belongs where is key to brand awareness and conversion. 

We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do know a few things for sure:

  • Online video consumption is incredibly popular—232 million digital video viewers just in the U.S., in fact. 
  • Video sharing is widely used not only to entertain, but to educate and inform. For example, healthcare providers now use short-form videos to convey accurate information to communities at a scale it would not otherwise reach.
  • Digital video penetration in the U.S. is projected to reach almost 84% in 2021, according to Statista.

What’s more, people are spending over 3 hours each day on their smartphones, up nearly 23 minutes for the average U.S. adult year-over-year, according to eMarketer. And these same users spend 38% of their mobile app time on social networking and music apps, per Statista. So, is your target audience on TikTok? Possibly. Will they adopt Instagram Reels? Maybe. Where should you invest your ad dollars? That’s a larger discussion. 

And as you weigh your options, here’s our perspective on each of these video-sharing platforms:

TikTok is the current king of video-sharing apps.

Downloaded over 2 billion times worldwide, TikTok reaches over 150 markets in 75 languages with over 800 million active monthly users. Of those, it’s estimated 85 million are in the U.S. with a 3:2 female-to-male ratio. Users skew heavily toward Gen Z, with those aged 13 - 24 accounting for 69% of the user base.  In June alone, the app was downloaded 87 million times (7.5 million in the U.S.) – more than 52% increase from June 2019. Not only are people installing the app, they are devouring it. ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based owner, has said U.S. users open the app eight times a day and that individual sessions last about 4.9 minutes—longer than user sessions on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

You might have heard, back in April, about the TikTok videos of dancing nurses that went viral. They showed the authentically human (and fun) side of a challenging profession working in an unprecedented time. Sharing authentic and engaging experiences is the core purpose of the platform and how influencers have built robust online communities that drive brand awareness.   

But TikTok is not all song and dance. India recently banned it after a claiming China was stealing user data in an unauthorized manner. As recent as this morning, the White House is ordering a ban on U.S. firms conducting business with TikTok, effective in 45 days. For now, this popular app is working to please both consumers and global politics, but time will tell if TikTok can weather the storm. In the meantime, we recommend brand marketers review all their options. 

Instagram Reels offers a similar, creator-friendly alternative.

Instagram Reels is Facebook’s answer to TikTok and a bit of a copycat but, not to be outdone, it boasts enviable and instant direct access to Instagram’s more than 1 billion monthly users, 130 million in the U.S. And while Facebook is facing political hurdles of its own, they may be lesser than the politics facing TikTok. Reels, like TikTok, allows users to create 15-second video clips and share them with the aim of going viral. Users access Reels right inside the Instagram app and from there the experience is a lot like TikTok. Facebook first tested Reels in Brazil last fall, rolling it out to more than 50 countries, including the US, this summer. 

According to SproutSocial, Instagram is the most important social media channel for influencer marketing, followed by YouTube. We are watching closely as Reels leverages this social powerhouse to take it to the next level. So far, what we’ve seen in the platform is a lot of people uploading old TikToks onto Reels – an account reached almost 80,000 followers with only a little over 700 posts—and it’s been only two days since the official launch. Definitely something to watch.

Byte feels like TikTok’s toddler brother.

Byte is another short-form video platform by the developer of the now-defunct Vine. It’s got a fan base nostalgic for Vine, but we aren’t so sure if it can take on the likes of TikTok or Reels. Unlike TikTok’s 15 – 60 second timeframe, Byte is banking on the Vine-like 6-second loop. We don’t think it has the potential staying power to take on TikTok that Reels has, but we’re keeping a close eye on it.

YouTube Shorts is not short on potential.

YouTube is expected to launch its own response to TikTok later this year as a feature – you guessed it - right  inside its mobile app. We are closely monitoring development, as the power of Google, YouTube’s owner, is one to behold. Instagram and YouTube will be a fun battle to watch, for sure – both fighting for their own value in the Influencer Marketing space. 


Digital advertising is never boring, and we love nothing more than to talk shop. What’s your take? Share your opinions and comments here or drop us a line if you want to learn more about how the team at Tessellati leverages video to promote brands on a wide range of channels.

Topics: Social Media, video marketing, social media marketing, New Technology


Staying ahead of the curve with us is only as valuable as your ability to produce targeted outcomes. We can do that together.

This is where business analytics shape artful marketing. In marketing, it's about insight, industry expertise and team dynamic. We take the time to ask the right questions and listen (really listen) to the answers. 

This blog consistently offers insights based on our research and work in the marketing field. We share our local and global marketing initiatives, from strategy to execution, run by an exceedingly thoughtful and talented team. Engaging creative design is built in.

Subscribe to this blog

Recent Posts