Twitter hunts for dollars in the 'democratization' of OTT video

NEW YORK--To say that Twitter's addition of video to its social media platform has been a success in the mobile realm is an understatement. According to the company, 90 percent of video views by users have been on mobile devices. But more important to the company's bottom line, its buildout of a native video player and advertising capability means it is finding new ways to pull in revenue.

Mike Park, Twitter Amplify

Park

Mike Park, director of content partnerships and Amplify at Twitter, told attendees here during a keynote presentation that two years ago, monetizing video content simply wasn't part of the discussion. "Now, we have an ability to actually monetize puppies playing football," he said, demonstrating the social media company's new advertising feature, a 3-second pre-roll video ad targeted to match just such a video.

A part of Twitter for Business, Amplify works with brands and advertisers to help them maximize their reach across Twitter.

It's easy to be a bit cynical about an executive touting Twitter's ability to "democratize" video with apps like Periscope and Vine while simultaneously talking about how to make money off of it. But Park is enthusiastic about the potential of brands to be more responsive to what users are discussing at a given moment. "Twitter is always used as a great vehicle for comms and Q&A," he said, adding that many companies have responded to user feedback or questions by posting a video on Twitter.

As Twitter has shown, speed matters when it comes to a massively tweeted event, and that hasn't changed with the addition of video. "We found that the later you wait to promote or post a tweet the less likely it will be retweeted," Park said. "Your sweet spot is around 5-10 minutes. If you promote that tweet out you'll reach up to 100 percent of your retweet potential (audience)."

A perfect use case, he said, was during the NBA playoffs last year. When NBA writer Chris Palmer tweeted a clip of a great play, "two minutes later NBA retweeted Palmer's tweet out with a pre-roll to sponsor that video … Twitter erupted," Park said.

User engagement, particularly around events like the Oscars or show premieres and finales, has caught the attention of media and entertainment companies, he noted. "A lot of large TV providers are starting to publish a lot more show clips, behind the scenes stuff. Not necessarily instant replay stuff, but putting a specific spin on the content," he said.

And with the growth of multichannel networks, Twitter is helping new YouTube stars boost their engagement with followers. "We've also developed a whole new vertical around MCNs. A lot of the talent that's on Twitter sees insane engagement rates for their content. You may follow a show but if you're following talent you're interested in everything that they put out," he said.

Underneath Amplify is an increasing amount of infrastructure. Park said that Twitter has its own native video player and that it has its own CDNs (content delivery networks) to handle traffic.

"Twitter is building basically all the dirty nasty stuff around transcoding, file format" and other technologies, he said, making it easier for brands to use their video platform. "Some of this has come through acquisitions, (such as) Vine. Also with Amplify, we developed our own player called Video Card and it's the core experience throughout what you see on Twitter."

Other Twitter products include Snappy TV, "which is now a free B2B platform," and Amplify's targeted video ad product. "A recent acquisition maybe not square in the video world is Niche, which allows millions of content creators to be connected with brands through a dashboard to make branded content. And then most recently of course, Periscope," he added.

All make a seamless experience for Twitter's audience. "Users don't care how all these things come together," Park said. "They just want this amazing, mesmerizing mountain bike ride on their phone."

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