Meta’s re-thinking its short-form content monetization strategy, with the company announcing that it’s pausing its Reels Play bonus program in the US, in order to focus on a revenue share system instead.
As reported by Business Insider:
“Meta will be pausing its US Reels Play bonus, a program that paid creators a monthly sum for accumulating views on their Reels. The pause will impact US-based creators on both Instagram and Facebook. Any ongoing Reels bonuses that a creator has signed up for will be honored for the next 30 days.”
The move comes as little surprise, given the challenges that all platforms have had in implementing effective short-form monetization programs.
Short-form content is invariably harder to monetize because of the lack of in-stream ads, which means that ad performance can’t be directly attributed to a creator and/or their content. That’s left most platforms reliant on creator fund programs, but the problem with that system is that the fund amount generally remains stagnant, as more creators sign on, which dilutes each participant’s overall share.
The end result, then, is that creators get paid less money, despite seeing better performance, which is the opposite of how monetization programs should work. The variability in payouts then also makes it impossible for creators to know what they’ll be making from their efforts, month-to-month.
That’s why YouTube has moved to a new revenue share model for Shorts, which, thus far, has produced mixed results. TikTok is also developing new revenue share plans, along with subscription offerings, like ‘Series’, which enables creators to paywall longer form content.
Meta’s also working on ad revenue share for Reels.
Earlier this week, Facebook chief Tom Alison provided a general overview of its efforts in this area:
“Over the years we’ve built one of the most robust monetization offerings of any creator app, so that creators can earn money in ways that make the most sense for them. This year, we’re focused on adapting and enhancing these tools for short-form video. We’ll continue expanding our ads on Facebook Reels tests to help more creators earn ad revenue for their Reels and grow virtual gifting via Stars on Reels.”
Virtual gifting and creator subscriptions are handy, supplementary monetization offerings, but Meta knows that it will need to, at the least, match YouTube’s revenue programs if it wants to keep the top talent posting to its apps.
YouTube’s main advantage in this respect is its hugely successful Partner Program, which pays out billions to creators every year, based on ad placement within their longer video clips. And while its Shorts monetization system is not up to the same level as yet, YouTubers can still user Shorts as a means to lead audiences back to their main YouTube channel, which, in combination, currently provides the best monetization potential for creators, overall.
As Alison notes, Instagram and Facebook also provide good revenue potential, but they still have work to do in implementing an equivalent system, with Reels monetization still a long way off being a viable, valuable pathway for such.
Which is the challenge before it. Creator funds are good as a starting point, but the systems need to evolve, and now, Meta’s putting the pressure on its own teams to come up with a better system to replace that process.
It’ll be interesting to see what the company comes up with, as it seeks to develop its alternative.