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YouTube vs TikTok: Which Platform is Best?

Who wins? YouTube? TikTok? Which platform is better for creators and making money?
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YouTube vs TikTok
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YouTube vs TikTok is a debate that a lot of creators have. If you want to focus on just one platform, then you need to know the:

  • Pros
  • Advertiser options
  • How to make money on each platform

We’re going to analyze both platforms, the ins and outs of each in 2024, and help you make an informed decision on which to create content on. You can increase your reach and build a business on each.

YouTube vs TikTok in 2024

Investing in video is never a bad idea. 96% of leaders believe that you should invest in social media, and if you’re a person thinking, “well, I’m not a business,” it doesn’t matter – the reach is extensive.

You can reach 2.68 billion people on YouTube and 1 – 1.5 billion on TikTok.

But each platform has its pros and cons, which you should consider when creating content for each and see which one meets your unique goals.

YouTube Pros

YouTube is the world’s largest video platform, offering:

  • 2.6+ billion people you can reach
  • Short- and long-form video content
  • Long history, founded in 2005
  • Multiple monetization options
  • Wide demographic of users of all ages
  • Multiple content types to choose from

TikTok Pros

TikTok is the “new” social media on the block, but it was founded in 2016 – so it’s been around for years. Fast-growing and engaging, a few of the benefits that TikTok offers are:

  • Bite-sized video formats
  • One of the world’s best recommendation engines
  • Shopping options built into the platform
  • Strong Gen Z presence
  • Higher engagement rate compared to YouTube Shorts

But the one downside of TikTok is the looming question of data privacy. U.S. users must recognize the constant threat of the platform being banned in the country because it is a Chinese-based entity.

Government agencies fear that the parent company of TikTok may hand over data to the Chinese government, such as location information or other sensitive data.

Head-to-Head: YouTube vs TikTok

Head-to-head, which platform performs best? It’s an ongoing debate because your goals are unique. Instead of trying to end the debate, let’s compare each platform so that you can make a decision on the ideal option for you:

1. Content Options

YouTube is known for its long-form video content, offering:

You can create Shorts, which are up to 60 seconds long in total. YouTube offers the opportunity to create any length of content that you like (within reason).

TikTok used to have a limit of 15 seconds – 3 minutes, but in recent years, the maximum video length was increased to 10 minutes. We wouldn’t be surprised if in the future TikTok doesn’t increase the maximum video length to 30 minutes or longer.

In terms of content options, YouTube is the clear winner in flexibility.

2. Business Options

YouTube is the main business driver for many businesses, but it’s not as product-friendly as TikTok. TikTok offers the product Shop and in-app shopping, making it a better option for selling physical items, such as clothes.

YouTube has been slower to adopt shopping, but they have introduced shopping tools and partnered with Shopify.

Shopping has been added to YouTube Shorts, and they have been testing shopping options in long-form videos. But in terms of robustness, TikTok wins in the overall shopping experience.

3. Monetization Options

Earning money on TikTok and YouTube is both possible. It’s a little easier to start earning money on TikTok compared to YouTube, and there are a lot of ways to make money on TikTok. But as we’ll see towards the end of the article, the top earners on YouTube are making a lot more than on TikTok.

YouTube vs TikTok earnings are:

  • TikTok pays more for short videos than YouTube Shorts (for most creators)
  • YouTube pays far more for long-form videos

One of our guides on earning money on Shorts found that most creators have earnings of just $0.02 – $0.06 per 1,000 views on Shorts. Top creators on TikTok claim their RPM is $0.50 – $1, but most people make $0.02 – $0.04 RPM on TikTok.

It’s easier to add links to TikTok for affiliate marketing, but you’ll generally find that YouTube pays more and has more ways to monetize.

4. Audience Data

YouTube’s top user demographic is either Gen Z or millennials, accounting for 50.6% of the user base. TikTok’s largest user group is between the age of 16 and 24, accounting for 60% of users.

TikTok’s user base is growing, especially with people in their 30s and 40s, but YouTube still has an older demographic, who are the ones who spend money online.

YouTube vs TikTok for Advertisers

When it comes to advertising, TikTok and YouTube both have advantages. But, the best platform for you will depend on where your target audience spends their time. 

  • TikTok is the most popular platform for younger generations: 22.4% are between 20-29 years old. Women make up the majority of the userbase.
  • YouTube seems to be popular with all age ranges, from 15-56+. Men make up the majority of the userbase.

Advertising costs also differ. TikTok generally has a higher cost per click ($0.50-$1) compared to YouTube ($0.010-$0.030). But again, costs aren’t the only factor here. The success of your ad will really depend on your industry, content format, placement and whether your audience is on the platform. 

Let’s look at the advertising options available on each platform:

YouTube Ads

  • Display ads on top of or next to the video
  • Overlay ads that appear on top of the video
  • Skippable video ads, which are commercials that you can skip after five seconds
  • Bumper ads, which are short-form video ads that appear before or in the middle of the video

TikTok Ads

  • In-feed ads, which appear like any other video users find on the “For You” page
  • Top view ads, which appear at the top of the “For You” feed when users first open the ad
  • Brand takeover ads, which are full-screen ads that play as soon as the app is opened
  • Branded effects, which are branded AR filters, stickers and lenses TikTokers can use when creating content
  • Branded hashtag ads, which are ads centered on a branded hashtag
  • Spark ads, which are in-feed ads that are created using TikTok videos from your profile

Overall, TikTok has more options for ad placement and types of ads.

YouTube vs TikTok for Making Money

If you’re serious about becoming an influencer or creator, you’re probably wondering which platform is the best option for income: TikTok or YouTube. 

The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you’d think.

Both platforms offer opportunities to make money

  • YouTubers can land brand deals that pay thousands of dollars, participate in affiliate marketing to generate revenue and make money through ads in their videos.
  • TikTokers can also make money through brand deals (sponsored posts) and affiliate marketing. However, TikTok also has a Creator Fund that pays creators who meet their requirements.

But do creators make more on YouTube or TikTok? According to a survey from Epidemic Sound, a platform that offers royalty-free music, TikTok is the top platform for income generation. 

YouTube wasn’t too far behind, though.

But how accurate is this data?

If you compare lists of the top earners on TikTok and YouTube, you’ll see that YouTube comes out on top.

Top TikTok Earners

Top YouTube Earners

When it comes to earnings, you really can’t go wrong with either platform. Many creators prefer TikTok because it’s a little easier to create content and build a following. However, if you’re interested in creating long-form videos, YouTube will offer an opportunity to earn more through lucrative sponsorships and ad revenue.

Final Thoughts

YouTube and TikTok are two of the most popular social media platforms on the planet. Both are video-focused, but TikTok is all about short-form video and YouTube is all about long-form.

If you’re a creator or advertiser, you’ll find a few differences between these platforms that you should keep in mind. Both offer opportunities to expand your reach through ads or generate revenue from your content, but they differ in their audience sizes and the ways in which income is generated.

Use our guide to better understand which platform will be the right choice for you – or if you should focus on both to maximize your reach.

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