Say Hello to 30-Minute TikToks. Here's Everything We Know.

30-minute TikToks are here... and we have so many questions. Mostly, why?? But also, what happens next?

Say Hello to 30-Minute TikToks. Here's Everything We Know.

TikTok perfected short, vertical video as a format—changing the social media landscape and ruining our collective attention spans. But now it looks like the app is pushing longer content more and more.

Here’s what we know: TikTok is currently testing 30-minute videos. 

Social media specialist Matt Navarra first reported this after spotting this notification in the TikTok beta app.

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This new upload limit may be far off from a general release, but it’s hot off the heels of an announcement in October 2023 where TikTok revealed they’d be testing 15-minute uploads. And this isn’t the first time TikTok video length has changed.

The evolution of TikTok video lengths over time

TikTok has upped the maximum length of videos four times already, not including the recent testing of 15- and 30-minute videos, and has done so with increasing frequency in recent years.

Here’s a quick timeline of TikTok video limits over the years:

  • 15 seconds (2016): TikTok originally launched to Chinese audiences as Douyin with 15-second videos.
  • 1 minute (2018): TikTok launched globally, taking over the app and increasing their video length limit to 60 seconds.
  • 3 minutes (2021): TikTok rolled out a new 3-minute video length limit to mixed reviews.
  • 10 minutes (2022): TikTok rolled out 10-minute video limits then partially rolled it back. Now users can upload 10-minute videos but not record them within the app.
  • 15 minutes (2023): TikTok rolled out 15-minute video uploads to some users. As of the writing of this, 15-minute uploads have not been released to the general public.
  • 30 minutes (2024??): Even though it’s still in beta testing, this is definitely inline with the continuing trend of longer and longer video limits.

The goal seems to be to get users acquainted with more long-form video appearing in their feed—and to get creators to embrace creating longer-form content, even if it doesn't (currently) perform as well.

New longer video limits seem to conflict with 2020 data released by TikTok itself where it recommended that creators make videos 11–17 seconds long, as that's what performed best. However, the sweet spot seems to be changing as similar data shared with TikTok creators in 2021 recommends making videos between 24–31 seconds long.

Even more conflicting, TikTok has been actively pushing creators away from creating shorter videos.

TikTok has been actively pushing creators away from making shorter videos.

In early 2023, TikTok introduced the Creativity Beta Program, which incentivized creators to make longer videos. Unlike the original TikTok Creator Fund, under this new program only videos 1 minute or longer are eligible for monetization. And creators couldn’t be enrolled in both monetization programs—they had to choose.

Now, there’s no choice at all. 

TikTok sunsetted their Creator Fund in December 2023. The message is clear: If you want to make money on TikTok, you need to be making longer videos.

Why is TikTok pushing for longer videos?

When in doubt, follow the money. And for TikTok, that means following advertising spend. Here's what we know:

1. TikTok’s ad growth is slowing down

TikTok’s ad revenue growth seems to be slowing down. Last year, TikTok lowered its target for advertising revenue from at least $12 billion to $10 billion, though this still represented 150% YoY growth.

Saying that there's "no ad revenue in short-form" seems to be an oversimplification. But TikTok’s not the only short-form game in town anymore.

Speaking of which…

2. Short-form competition is heating up

TikTok dominated short-form after the death of Vine and is finally beginning to face more fierce competition for both attention and ad dollars. Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and even Snapchat Spotlights are making up ground after trailing behind TikTok for so long.

Some hard evidence: Instagram Reels’ ad revenue run rate more than tripled from $3 billion in the fall of 2022 to $10 billion in August 2023.

3. Short-form (still) isn’t easy to monetize

Creators continue to struggle with monetizing short-form video directly, probably because short-form platforms struggle with how to sell ad space on short-form video.

Reed Duchscher, CEO of Night, a management company for creators like MrBeast, has frequently written about how creators make great use of short-form for discoverability, but that's mostly because they can’t monetize it as well as long form. That means the game is to drive your short-form attention back to your long-form videos. 

Perhaps TikTok views this as an existential risk.

If short-form’s greatest value is to drive traffic back to long-form, it’s clear where in the hierarchy short-form only platforms sit in  the average creator’s stack. TikTok would probably love for long-form content to live on their platform, too, making it a home for all video instead of just a distribution platform for short-form clips.

For now, TikTok’s strategy seems to be making it as difficult as possible for creators to drive traffic off-app. We know TikTok’s algorithm sometimes suppresses content talking about other apps, mentioning “link in bio,” etc.

So, what’s going to happen with 30-minute TikToks?

We don’t know exactly how the introduction of significantly longer videos will affect TikTok, but our team has a few initial predictions:

1. Viewer adoption is likely, although reactions will be mixed. While TikTok seems incongruous with long videos, as long as the content’s engaging, people will watch it.

“They might grumble. People complained when TikTok released 3-minute videos, and again when they rolled out 10-minute videos. ‘Why would I watch a long video on TikTok?’ But we do anyway.” – Meghan Crawford, Editorial Content Strategist

“It seems like it would feel similar to watching a long YouTube video on mobile.” – Jack Dodge, Video Content Strategist

2. Creator adoption is less likely. The real question is if there will be any 30-minute TikToks to watch. TikTok isn’t doing a very good job yet of incentivizing creators to make longer content (and the data shows that short-form still performs better).

“I think TikTok will need to figure out the monetization piece for creators to want to post long content on there.” – Grace Windheim, Product Marketing Manager

3. But if they can make it profitable, it will change the game (again). TikTok has already paved the way for long-form and even horizontal content with the new ‘flip your screen' feature. Now they just need to make it actually more profitable for creators to keep viewers on the app than to drive their traffic elsewhere.

“It would probably make it easier for creators to repurpose long-form videos they had already planned to upload to YouTube, so it would be worth it to reupload to TikTok, too.” – Jack Dodge, Video Content Strategist

“It’s the YouTube-ification of TikTok. Or at least, TikTok hopes it is.” – Greg Ciotti, Head of Content

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