Meta is pausing its program to pay bonuses to creators for making Reels and hitting specific benchmarks. The program, originally introduced in 2021, incentivized content makers to generate more short video content. The shutdown will impact all Reels creators on Facebook and U.S.-based creators on Instagram — the Instagram program was only available for creators based in the U.S.

The program’s discontinuation, first reported by Business Insider, indicates that platforms are looking to pull back from paying creators based on the popularity of their short videos. Meta will still respect any commitment for bonuses for 30 days, according to the report.

Meta told the publication that it might reintroduce the program in “targeted” ways if Reels enter a new market. This is a bit strange to hear, given that the short video product is already available in more than 150 countries.

As TechCrunch has reported previously, creators got healthy bonuses under this program. Multiple creators got more than $10,000 in bonuses, with some claiming to get even $35,000 in a month. But these creators had to garner millions of views on their Reels, and Meta was happy to distribute money to make the format more popular.

Given that short video is one of the most popular formats on social media today, Meta is probably trying to bank ad money. Last year, it expanded its overlay ads experiment to creators in more than 50 countries in addition to displaying in-stream ads. For both these ad formats, the company shares 55% of the revenue with the creators.

Last year, Mark Zuckerberg said that Reels have reached a $1 billion annual revenue rate. But the company would hope that the format brings more money while it burns cash on the metaverse efforts.

On the investor call for Meta’s Q4 2022 results, Zuckerberg expressed that Reels is not making enough money yet.

“The next bottleneck that we are focused on to continue growing Reels is improving monetization efficiency or the revenue that’s generated per minute of Reels watched. Currently, the monetization efficiency of Reels is much less than Feed. So the more that Reels grows, even though it adds engagement to the system overall, it takes some time away from Feed and we actually lose money,” he said.

As the company is stopping bonuses, creators would need incentives to post short videos on Meta’s platforms instead of TikTok or YouTube Shorts. Facebook has promised to give more monetization tools to creators to earn money on Reels.

“This year, we’re focused on adapting and enhancing these [monetization] 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,” Facebook head Tom Alison said in a blog post earlier this week.

But Meta is not an anomaly when it comes to stopping creator bonuses for short videos. Both Snapchat and YouTube Shorts have moved to ad revenue-sharing models instead of splashing the cash on creator funds.

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Meta will stop offering Reels bonuses to creators on Facebook and InstagramMeta will stop offering Reels bonuses to creators on Facebook and Instagram

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