Admitting the service is being introduced as it's "all the rage", YouTube has joined a host of high profile sites, such as Google and Facebook, in offering a direct link shortener option.

Designed to "ensure that those useful URLs you're sharing don't take up too much precious character count while also giving you an inkling of what you're about to click on", the rise of Twitter, with its 140-character limit is the main reason for the rise in such services.

"We've just launched as a shortner for YouTube video links - and nothing but YouTube links - so you can rest assured that when you see a link with this URL, you are indeed about to click on a YouTube video".

Because the shortened link contains the ID of the video, YouTube says developers will be able to do "interesting things" like show thumbnails, embed the video directly, or track how a video is spreading in real-time.