As the mobile market is now familiar to us, content consumption patterns are also becoming more mobile-friendly. As a result, the consumption of short-form content is also increasing as easy video viewing is possible anywhere with mobile devices. Producer Na Young-Seok, who directed "New Journey to the West" and "Yoon's Restaurant," said, "The days of watching the only TV are over. I felt that TV programs are too long these days. I want to do a light ‘Short-form’ ." positively evaluating the short-form content. Now, let's look at the short-form content, as its demand is increasing day by day.
What is Short-Form content?
The word ‘Short-form’ is a combination of ‘short’ and ‘form’. In other words, ‘Short-form’ means a short video or content of fewer than 10 minutes. In the current era, the proportion of video content is getting larger. In addition, in the contactless era, due to Covid-19, the usage frequency of video content and applications has increased. Therefore, communication is conducted mainly through images or videos, and people are becoming more enthusiastic about shorter and clearer short-form content.
Another reason behind the rapid growth of ‘Short-form’ is the spread of smartphones. Decades ago, it was common to consume content only at a fixed time through TV. However, with the spread of smartphones and tablet PCs, the times have changed so that contents can be consumed freely outside too. Recently, as video contents are available everywhere such as in subways or buses at any time, the ‘Short-form’ can be easily seen from time to time and has drawn attention. Also, due in part to the increasing amount of information available, people easily get tired of longer writings or videos and want only the core information quickly.
In an interview by Dongguk University Newspaper, student A said, "I usually enjoy watching movies, but I don't have enough time to watch them, so I enjoy watching summary videos on YouTube." Another student B, said, "I have a TV at home, but I don't really watch it. I usually watch short edits of programs instead of watching the entire program.”, explaining the reason for using short-form contents.
Tik Tok has a large share of the ‘Short-form’ market. For these changes, TikTok, the most powerful influencer of the ‘Short-form’ market, has played a major role. TikTok is a short-form content platform introduced by the Chinese IT company "Byte Dance" in 2016. Last year, it surpassed older platforms such as 'Instagram', 'Facebook', 'Netflix' and 'YouTube' and achieved second place in global mobile application downloads. In 2020, starting with the singer Zico's 'Any Song Challenge,' many dance challenge trends have been seen in Korea.
The popularity of ‘Short-form’ benefits drove the growing trend of Tik Tok. TikTok gained popularity through its taste-oriented social media and its strategy of thoroughly focusing on fun. It does not depend on friends-oriented relationships. Moreover, its popularity was influenced by the fact that the interface is intuitive so that anyone can easily create and share videos. As a result, ‘ByteDance’ was ranked first in the Global Unicorn ranking in November 2018. According to a record released by Research Tower Inc., TikTok's global app downloads totaled more than 2 billion cases, on both iOS and Android devices. In addition, the corporate value of TikTok operator ByteDance exceeded 2,500 dollars as of March 2021.
Features of Short-form Content
As companies are also gradually reduced the average length of videos, the popularity of short-form content is widening. In fact, the average video length change data for advertising and promotional purposes in 2019 by software company ‘Vidyard’ showed that the average video length decreased by about 9.07 minutes between 2016 and 2018. The most significant feature of short-form content is that the video is fast and clear, and the message is short and concise. It is a pattern consistent with an increasingly mobile-friendly lifestyle.
In the minutes of waiting for the subway or at the time of brewing coffee, the ‘Short-form’ offers us the most exciting sights. Through platforms that provide easy editing and various short-form production services with the development of technology, it is possible to freely cross the boundaries between viewers and producers. In this way, short-form content is produced and actively consumed without time and space constraints and brings changes in the industry.
As ‘Short-forms’ have become the trend, it opens opportunities for anyone to easily become a creator and possibly become an influencer. TikTok influencer, a representative platform of short-form content, is on the rise. In fact, the number of senior-aged (60-70s) creators, as well as middle-aged people in their 40s and 50s, is increasing on TikTok. Lee Chan-Jae and Ahn Kyung-Ja, an ordinary couple born in 1942, runs a ‘Grandpachan’ account and are called TikTok influencers.
The couple's first video posting was Zico’s ‘Any Song Challenge’ in January 2020 from a recommendation by their grandchildren who are middle and high school students. But as the first video gained huge popularity, Zico sent them gifts. Unlike the simple goal of making videos to communicate with their grandchildren, the videos posted by this elderly couple on TikTok are enjoyed by 1.4 million followers around the world as of 2021.
Short-form content not only makes influencers popular but also raises huge profits. While the use of influencers by Instagram, YouTube, and blogs is still mainstream in the domestic influencer marketing market, the needs and campaigns for TikTok influencers continue to increase. Influencer marketing using TikTok influencers is already taking place overseas. In fact, TikTok stars have been selected as models for luxury brands and have greatly expanded their influence. Some are even promoting Hollywood movies.
According to a BBC report in England, Charli D'amelio, who lives in Norwalk, Connecticut, surpassed 100 million followers for the first time in TikTok's history, and the number of followers continued to increase, approaching 19.8 million in March 2021. Thanks to her numerous followers, Charli D'amelio has been cast as a voice actor in animated films as well as appearing in commercials with global clothing companies and food companies. Forbes, a U.S. economic magazine estimated the income of Charli D'amelio as $ 4 million (about 4.4 billion won).
The War of ‘Short-form’ Platforms.
As the demand for short-form content grows, related markets are also growing. Let's find out about the new short-form platforms and the changing domestic market.
1) "Reels" on Instagram
Thanks to the growth of the short-form content market, existing platform companies are also releasing new platforms and content related to the ‘Short-form.’ On August 15, 2020, Instagram introduced Reels Service, a short-form video app that allows users to edit and share 15-second videos. Reels was criticized for imitating TikTok by applying short video formats to music and text editing functions at the time of its release.
However, Vishal Shah, the executive vice president of Instagram, refuted the comments by saying "It is true that TikTok contributed a lot to the spread of short-form videos, but weren't there any Vines or Musical.ly services before TikTok?" He continued his speech, "This originator controversy is not important, but it will be important to have competition in good faith with each other and produce better results." On the other hand, Instagram, unlike TikTok, reveals its strength in that it has a response system for threats and manipulations such as face swaps and deep fakes.
2) “Shorts” on Youtube
As China and India clashed several times starting with the dam construction problem in 2020, India drove out Chinese companies and stopped using Chinese apps altogether. Then YouTube targeted the Indian market and launched the short video platform "Shorts" in September 2020 to fill China's TikTok position. ‘Shorts’ is a vertical video platform that supports videos of up to 60 seconds in length. YouTube introduced the service through its blog, saying, "You can use all the functions TikTok provides," claiming to be a counterpart of TikTok. In addition, Google announced its goal of expanding the pilot service area starting with India to surpass TikTok's influence around the world.
In Korea, there is a craze for ‘Short-form’ on television and OTT. Moreover, short-form original content business competition is intensifying on social platforms. Broadcasters, who traditionally produced videos of at least 60 minutes, also attempted to produce short-form content. tvN tried new things with 5 minutes of content such as 'Three Meals Between Iceland' and 'Rakki Nam'. Netflix also drastically reduces the running time of some drama to within 15-minutes which originally had a 1-hour running time. This was Netflix's new attempt, which used to focus only on long-form content, and they said they will invest in strengthening the competitiveness of short-form content.
Additionally, local authorities and institutions are also notable in their production of practical short-form content. Among the lifelong learning specialization programs in Gangnam, "Like Flowers," a wool-drawing class was created with short-form programs that were released for children that were restricted from outdoor activities due to Covid-19. "Mezzo Media," a digital marketing solution company, said that the length of advertising and promotional videos for companies has been gradually decreasing since 2016, accounting for 73% of the total, which is expected to continue in the future.
Marketing examples of short-form content
As short-form content becomes popular, interest in short-form advertising increases in industries such as games, commerce, movies, and music. In 2019, according to a survey conducted by Mezzo Media about ‘the preferred length of video advertisements,’ the advertising effect of short-form video under 15 seconds was confirmed to be excellent in terms of brand recognition and information delivery. In particular, the nature of advertisement that delivers its central message briefly leads to an increase in hook song campaigns that imprint content on consumers' memories in just 15 seconds.
These hooking songs are mainly composed of repetitive bits and simple movements that can be easily followed, making it easier for secondary processing and distribution. In fact, Dongwon Tuna's 'Taste of Tuna Campaign' became hugely popular by producing CM songs suitable for short-form content. The Dongwon Tuna CM Song has selected as the No. 1 YouTube Advertising Leaderboard in 2020 and was recorded as the No. 1 CF view in Korea and the highest sales ever.
‘TikTok x Kroger’ is an in-app campaign that links hashtag challenge and product purchase. ‘Kroger’, an American retail company, progressed a #transformUrDorm campaign targeting students with the concept of changing their rooms through shopping. The company posted a short-form video cooperated with influencer and exposed the hashtag to the discovery area for a week to activate the challenge. They recommended the main product in the search tab of the hashtag page and linked it with the brand web page to induce in-app purchases.
Also, artists are using short-form content to promote their songs. Representatively, global K-pop artist BTS collaborated with TikTok to conduct various challenge marketing. The title track of the new album was pre-released through TikTok several times. Each marketing campaign was carried out accordingly, leading to public participation as well as promotion. Especially in the case of "Life goes on" which was released in 2020, a version of the music video produced only by video clips of fans from all over the world participating in the challenge, was posted on the BTS's official TikTok and other SNS.
Likewise, the TikTok collaboration challenge in the K-pop entertainment market has become an essential element of marketing. In particular, it is more difficult to participate in concerts or offline performances due to Covid-19, and TikTok marketing has become an effective way of promoting new songs and self-branding by artists.
Controversy and prospects ahead.
While short-form contents increase day by day, according to the collection of domestic consumers' responses to TikTok-related news from June 14, 2020, 21.5% of positives and 67.0% of negatives showed overwhelming results. This is because TikTok, which started its service in Korea in 2017, collected and kept about 10.57 million personal information, and was sanctioned by the domestic government for unauthorized collection and transfer of personal information. Also, according to the survey, TikTok notified consumers that it does not provide services to children under the age of 14 but did not operate a procedure to check the age of the user by having them enter their birthday directly or simply check items over the age of 14. In response, some consumers expressed negative opinions about the Chinese country, the developer of TikTok. As such, the issues of "unreliable privacy" and "age-restricted security" seem to be a big issue for TikTok to solve with its future growth.
Nevertheless, interests and supports for ‘Short-forms’ are increasing day by day. Short-form content has been selected as a formal field in the "Broadcast Video Content Production Support Project" hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Korea Creative Content Agency. The size of the support is said to be up to 50 million won per piece, contributing, and supporting the production of various web-based short-form contents suitable for changes in the media environment. As in the above cases, competition in the ‘Short-form’ platforms and content markets are expected to expand and the market will become fiercer.
Seo Chan-Seok, a sociology professor at Chung-Ang University, said, "In a modern society where various information is poured, the growth of the short-form market that catches the public's attention in a short time is inevitable." "Generation Z, who is familiar with short-form content, coming to the forefront of society, will cause a wind of change not only in social media but also incorporate advertising and marketing," he said, signaling continued expansion and change of the ‘Short-form’.
As offline marketing is currently limited for companies and brands to communicate with consumers due to Covid-19, short-form platforms which have relatively low entry barriers with video content production are expected to increase at an alarming rate. As a result, Korean companies should continue to explore new marketing channels and develop new ideas utilizing them.
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