This week, Twitter introduced video “instant replay” for March Madness. By following the NCAA’s @marchmadness account you can catch highlights from all of the college basketball games within a few minutes of them being broadcast.
This is, of course, great for fans who can’t watch or miss games featuring their favorite teams. However, it’s much more significant in terms of Twitter’s future and the future of video and video advertising on the site.
The clips are a result of a partnership between Turner Broadcasting, Twitter and SnappyTV, which is providing the technology behind the 15-second video. Each clip features a pre-roll ad from either AT&T or Coke Zero (Diet Coke for men) according to USAToday.
Twitter did something similar with ESPN for last year’s college football bowl games. And, although third parties have enabled video sharing on Twitter, it’s not widely known or utilized. This will likely change that, as well as make Twitter a medium or channel for video and “TV advertising.”
It’s not very hard to imagine where this goes. In the near future, we’ll probably start to see much more video content on Twitter: event highlights, news, music, etc. And much of it will feature TV-style or repurposed TV ads. Many more promoted Tweets from brands, and others will probably feature video and so on.
If this takes off, Twitter could be the happy recipient of coveted TV branding dollars that have been very slow to move into the digital realm. Brands and national advertisers have already embraced the hashtag — witness Twitter’s victory over Facebook during the Super Bowl. This is one of the reasons that Facebook is seeking to adopt the hashtag itself.
Imagine advertisers using the hashtag, which then leads to video content (e.g., outdoor or print ads with the hashtag that lead to mobile or online video clips). . It’s pretty interesting to consider how this might play out. And, it could quickly boost Twitter’s ad revenues as major brands promote themselves and buy pre-roll ads on other videos that appear on Twitter.
Because of the very targeted way that Twitter operates (#XYZ), promoted video content might be more successful for national advertisers on Twitter than it is on, say, YouTube, where there’s lots of “noise” and visual clutter, although massive reach.
The hashtag is strongly identified with Twitter, though not exclusively. Our AJ Kohn conducted a Google consumer survey asking where people would go online after seeing #thatwasawkward on the Jimmy Fallon show. Most people said Twitter, but not everyone:
- Twitter — 43.4 percent
- Google+ — 26.1 percent
- Facebook — 18.9 percent
- Instagram — 7.6 percent
- Pinterest — 4 percent
If Facebook and others were to adopt the hashtag in a more formal way, it would effectively destroy the value of it for advertisers. That’s because consumers wouldn’t know precisely where to go online when seeing it. (Alternatively, they would have to put the same content everywhere to cover their bases.) While it has trademarked “tweet,” it’s not clear to me that Twitter would be able to trademark the # or @ symbols or usage of them.
Assuming that the hashtag isn’t “diluted” by widespread adoption, Twitter is quite likely to become the social-media brand-advertising channel of choice. Video will be instrumental in that development.