TikTok pushes on with longer videos even as people say they don't want them

TikTok (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • TikTok is testing longer videos, sometimes as long as ten minutes.
  • User feedback has told TikTok that people don't want longer videos.
  • Longer videos would allow TikTok to sell more ads.

TikTok has been testing longer and longer videos since late last year, often going as far as a whole ten minutes. Those are YouTube-level videos — and while its users say they don't like them, TikTok doesn't seem to care.

The theory is simple — the longer the video, the more ads TikTok can sell which in turn means more money. You don't need to read much more into it than that, according to a WIRED report.

TikTok is betting that users don't know best. Short videos can only get the app so far. While TikTok has ridden the wave of popularity that propelled it to the top of app stores worldwide, to sustainably grow its revenue, it needs longer videos, which gain more attention, and allow them to sell more ads. "Ultimately, if five-minute videos help TikTok push their average watch time up by even a few seconds, traditional advertisers may feel they have more freedom, and tech is always looking for as much revenue as possible," says Karyn Spencer, an industry expert who previously worked for now-defunct short form video app Vine.

All of this means that it's surely only a matter of time before we're watching longer TikTok videos, even if the social network's market research suggests that "videos longer than a minute long were stressful."

TikTok extended its minute-long videos to three minutes less than a month after that revelation, clearly showing that ads are more important. But there's a delicate balancing act to be had here — if TikTok really does stress people out, will they just stop coming back for more cat videos? The app runs the risk of losing its place as the best iPhone app for short-form videos.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.