Time and again we have highlighted the strong growth of the video space in 2015. Facebook and YouTube are leading the competition, but we have also seen a growing interest from brands. While the battle between Facebook and YouTube is turning into a battle of equals, Twitter has been slowly building its efforts in the video space by way of product feature announcements or acquisitions.
Speaking at the VidCon recently, Baljeet Singh, Twitter’s head of TV and video, has emphasized that in the last six months Twitter’s focus on videos has become aggressive. “We’ve just seen this massive transformation,” Baljeet said, “to the point that it’s less and less common that you ask someone about video on Twitter and they say, ‘Oh, you mean Vine.’”
VidCon – the three-day event that happened last week in Anaheim, California saw more than 18000 teens and millennials swarmed in to connect in person with video stars like Smosh, Burnie Burns, TheThirdPew, Markiplier and Ksiolajidebt.
In fact Baljeet also emphasized that Twitter is hoping to capture some of that youthful enthusiasm. For one thing he said, Twitter’s mobile focus means that more than 90% of video views on the network come from mobile devices. For another, he said, Twitter is a superior place for the interaction between creators and their fans.
Listed below are four major announcements made by Twitter in the video space, so brands are focused on its platform too.
1. Native Video With Neil Patrick Harris
Beginning of the year Twitter unveiled its native video, allowing Neil Patrick Harris to promote the Academy Awards, which he hosted on ABC. In a 30-second “scoop” clip, Harris became the first to publicly employ the feature while revealing that songwriting husband-wife duo Robert and Kristen Lopez, last year’s Oscar winners for Frozen, are part of the show’s creative team.
Part of the company’s statement boasted the camera feature’s technical capabilities: “In just a few taps you can add a video to unfolding conversations, share your perspective of a live event and show your everyday moments instantly, without ever having to leave the app. Viewing and playing videos is just as simple: Videos are previewed with a thumbnail, and you can play them with just one tap.”
— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) January 27, 2015
To promote its native video Twitter has partnered with Indian publishers, Hindustan Times is one such publisher which has used Twitter native videos to supplement its stories.
— Twitter India (@TwitterIndia) July 18, 2015
Along with the 10 minute long video in India Twitter has been working with brands to promote its long format video. During this years IPL, Twitter joined hands with the IPL partner companies. such as cab booking service Taxi For Sure for its #MadnessForCricket campaign. #MadnessForCricket, at its core, was an exciting one as it gave fans a chance to share their ‘madness for cricket’ while getting lucky to meet with the cricket junkie, quiz freak and presenter, Gautam Bhimani.
— TaxiForSure (@taxiforsure) May 11, 2015
Similarly, television channel Colors partnered with Twitter’s long format video to create pre-buzz about its reality show – India’s Got Talent.
— COLORS (@ColorsTV) April 16, 2015
2. Autoplay videos
Twitter finally joined the lucrative video advertising market with the launch of autoplay videos on its platform. Twitter wrote on its blog that from now on enjoying video will become much more easier. “Now native videos, Vines and GIFs will begin to play back automatically. So you can keep up with the action without missing a Tweet and get a better sense of what’s been shared instantly.”
It wasn’t surprising that Twitter finally jumped the onto the bandwagon of autoplay video after Google and Facebook. However Twitter states that the latest move to go for autoplay video comes from the changes the platform has been making since last year. “Over the past year we’ve made several changes to improve how you share, discover and watch videos, such as reducing the number of taps it takes to play a video, introducing a native mobile camera and bringing videos and Vines front and center in your timeline.”
Like Facebook, Twitter’s autoplay will be activated without audio when a video comes into view on the screen. The sound will be activated and the video will display in an expanded view if a user clicks or taps on a video. Additionally, if a user turns his or her device to a horizontal orientation, the audio will switch on and the video will expand to the full screen.
With this move Twitter also adjusted the way it charges advertisers for video ads. Shifting from its previous practice of charging by the click, the company will charge for videos that are 100% in-view on a users device for at least three seconds. Twitter is also following the footsteps of Facebook when it comes to charging on views from advertisers.
Twitter said that Autoplay provides a better experience for users and brands. Tests have revealed that people were 2.5X more likely to prefer autoplay videos over other viewing methods and a significant 14% lift in video recall over other video formats.
For brands there has been 7x increase in completions of Promoted Videos. Trusting these tests Mountain Dew became the first brand to test Twitter’s Autoplay feature by sending out five threaded tweets each containing a GIF of the Baja Blast pouring out from the sky.
3. Acquiring Niche
In the month of February, Twitter made an interesting acquisition in Niche, a startup that provided video creators with analytic tracking software and, most importantly, connected them with brands willing to pay for their creativity.
Founded in 2013, Niche at the time of acquisition had built a community of more than 6000 comedians, visual artists, foodies, among others who have attracted large fan bases on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter-owned Vine and other visual social mediums. Niche connected these new age content creators with brands who wanted to reach out to the millennials. According to a report of Buzzfeed average clients were spending $100,000 to $500,000 on campaigns.
Over the last year Niche has been a key partner to both Twitter and Vine. The company has helped fuel the creator economy by developing leading technology, consisting of free, cross-platform analytics, as well as connecting the creative community directly with the world’s biggest brands.
Here’s one example of a Niche-brokered deal, a Hewlett-Packard campaign on Vine that was also turned into a television commercial:
Post acquisition Niche has been open to all platforms, when it comes to distributing sponsored video on other platforms. Going further Niche users can expect improvements to the cross-platform analytics tools, informed Baljeet.
4. Acquiring Periscope
Twitter which had acquired Periscope, the live streaming audio and video app when it was in its beta stage, re-launched it in the month of March. Periscope streams live audio and video from a user’s smartphone that other people can watch and comment on within the app — the link to the live-stream can be shared on Twitter as a way to spread the word and boost the audience.
Since then the video live streaming market has been quite competitive with Periscope competing directly with Meerkat. Meerkat that originally grew its popularity during the SXSW event with Twitter integration has now moved out of Twitter. Meerkat has now focused on Facebook integration and recently introduced live streaming from GoPro cameras.
However, Baljeet has been pleased by how people are using Periscope in creative ways. “There are some really great examples of emerging creators on Periscope,” he said. “There’s guys who will take you into the museums of Paris. There’s guys who are up in space who previously were just posting photos, now they are live streaming as an astronaut.
In India, Twitter has been working closely with online content creators and has been pushing Periscope too. “It’s great new evolving formats that we would have never predicted five months ago before launch.”
— Twitter India (@TwitterIndia) July 24, 2015
— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) July 15, 2015
— Baahubali (@BaahubaliMovie) June 1, 2015