The TikTok-YouTube Ad Battle, Text Comes to AI Images, Bluesky and More!

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This Week: The latest developments in the short-form video space, where YouTube and TikTok are battling for your attention and money. Plus a cool new tool that lets you create images with text using AI. Also thoughts on BlueSky ascending and Clubhouse dropping. It’s the second week of May and here’s you need to know.

Short Form Video Monetization Heats Up: The TikTok/YouTube war for creator hearts and minds is accelerating. YouTube added Shorts to its “Video Reach Campaigns”, which uses AI to help marketers place ads. Big Red also added a new Select option to Shorts ads as well. Both promise to increase Shorts revenue for creators. TikTok announced that its “Creativity Program Beta” is now available to all creators in the US. It’s still a fund, not revshare, and will likely not include meaningful payouts – even if they are bigger than the $.04 CPV creator Nicole Marks-Martinez sees today. But if you’re a premium publisher (read old media), TikTok has something new for you – an expansion of Pulse to give brands access to videos from “trusted partners”. In a related story, at least some creators are cashing in over at TikTok’s secret UGC video factory. Looks like TikTok wants to lean into brands and media companies rather than support digital-native creators, but we’ll see how it nets out.

Text Finally Comes to AI Image Generators: So far, it’s been easier to clone a Warhol or Monet than add text to AI-generated images. But now auto thumbnail generation at scale – with text, AB testing and much more – is almost here. Stability AI – parent of image gen tool Stable Diffusion – just released a beta from its partner Deep Floyd called “Deep Floyd IF”, which supports text along with image generation. It’s far from perfect – but offers a glimpse into a fully-automated future, one that’s much closer than ever. I created a handful of fun “Inside the Creator Economy” images, but only about 20% were usable. Some of the fails were super intriguing (look for those in the post comments). Give it a try here and post your best images in the comments below.

Skeeting and Tweeting in the Clubhouse: There was a time when I really wanted to get into Clubhouse. And then once I did get in, it quickly succumbed to the Yogi Berra effect: “no one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”. And now with Clubhouse laying off half its staff, streamed voice-only events seem as quaint as N95 masks, PCR tests and buckets of hand-sanitizer. Now I’m outside the BlueSky velvet ropes, which the cool kids flash-mobbed last week. Yogi Berra’s coming for BlueSky too – but he’s also coming for all the big social platforms. Just as lemony fresh imaginary friends won’t save Snap, Bluesky’s new hotness won’t last. Another templated social network – at least to me – seems as antiquated as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

Sorting Out Deep Fakes: TikTok is working on a special label for creators to flag whether their videos were AI generated. This is similar to disclosing video sponsors, but I’m less optimistic it will make a difference. The technology will likely outpace efforts to rein it in – and it’s unlikely that unprincipled creators will flag their videos this way. Platforms will likely engage in an ultimately fruitless “whack a mole” effort focused on labelling, demonetizing or deleting AI-generated videos. I posted a crazy sci-fi solution to authenticate human-generated video, but in the end I forecast a return to authenticity and the continued rise of IRL creator experiences.




QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Viral Traffic Was Always Garbage” – Brian Morrisey in his awesome newsletter The Rebooting.

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