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Twitter moves closer to YouTube model with pre-roll ads

20-October-2015
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Twitter moves closer to YouTube model with pre-roll ads

Twitter’s new CEO Jack Dorsey is holding on to his promise of accelerating product development and new features. At a high-profile event last week, Twitter’s top management announced a new focus on video products, including providing pre-roll ads for advertisers, closer integration between Periscope, Vine and Twitter, the official opening up of Twitter Amplify, etc. The long awaited Project Lightning, now rebranded as Twitter Moments was also officially announced.

What this means is that Twitter now has a well-defined strategy for video and one that advertisers are actually familiar with. One commentator compared the inclusion of pre-roll ads (as part of Twitter Amplify) as Twitter’s attempt to appear more attractive to advertisers used to platforms like YouTube.

Key to the new video strategy is Twitter Amplify, a product actually announced a while back. “All publishers and creators will now have the option to monetize their content on Twitter by connecting directly to advertisers,” said Baljeet Singh, Video Product Director at Twitter. This process, he said, would allow video monetization at scale.  Media reports also indicate that Twitter will be doing a 30-70 per cent revenue share with content producers, which is better than Facebook and YouTube, it is claimed.


What Amplify does is create an automated marketplace, thus simplifying the process of buying pre-roll ads for videos from the earlier convoluted process where advertisers had to deal with publishers to place their ads and then pay Twitter to promote it. “With this update, advertisers can run video ads against premium content automatically based on their preferred content categories — without having an existing publisher-advertiser deal in place,” wrote David Regan Senior Product Manager (Video) at Twitter.

The product is currently in beta and only available in the US, said the company with publishers like IGN, National Geographic, Vox Media, Time, Fox, Sports Illustrated, AOL, Buzzfeed, TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, MTV, among others, already on board. It is not yet clear when the platform will be extended to India.

However, Indian digital agencies are excited about the new video initiatives by the microblogging company.

Speaking about Twitter Moments, Zafar Rais, CEO of Mindshift Interactive said, “Twitter's new feature is unique and much required in today’s fast moving virtual world. Moments will help to turn conversations and events into something readable and elements to be recoverable. The new feature will provide storytelling and will give any tweet a longer and more rational life. Moments will inject more real-time feeds and lead to conversations on a larger scale. It provides quick, informative yet entertaining snippets that people might check when they have a spare moment. With this new feature, Twitter is moving towards making necessary changes in its offerings in order to appeal and reach out to a larger mainstream audience.”

Gautamm Mehra, Business Head (Social Media) at iProspect Communicate2, also felt that videos would be a key part of Twitter’s push to “own the moment”. “If you look at Twitter’s value proposition as a second screen, it is probably the best medium along with search so having a strong video strategy definitely makes sense,” he said.

He was, however, less enthused about the product’s viability in India in the current scenario. He pointed out to two factors that could impact the efficacy of Twitter Video in India—scale and pricing. “The cost per engagement or per video view on Facebook is less than a rupee while the same for Twitter goes up to Rs 15 per view/engagement, which is a huge difference. How Twitter prices the model will play a big part on its success in India,” he opined.

For Facebook Instant Articles, a platform launched by Facebook for publishers, the social networking giant says that it will allow publishers to keep 100 per cent revenues while keeping 30 per cent revenues for ads sold by Facebook. In the cost sensitive Indian market, Twitter will have to come out with something as competitive if it wants to take on the likes of YouTube and Facebook.

Also read: Google, Twitter join hands to take on Facebook in content wars?

Meanwhile, the vast difference in user base between the two platforms is also something that Twitter will have to take into consideration as Mehra pointed out.

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