Twitter Makes Its Case To Be A Major Video Player At VidCon
After "massive transformation" in video this year, Twitter's head of TV and video says the company is the best place for video creators to connect with fans and that Twitter is committed to providing more avenues to make money from the connection.
Until recently, video on Twitter was an afterthought. Even the person responsible for the company’s video efforts, Baljeet Singh, admits as much.
But that has changed in the last six months, as Twitter has picked up the pace with a succession of new video features and acquisitions. Twitter has now introduced consumer video uploading, purchased video analytics provider/influencer broker Niche, launched live streaming app Periscope and rolled out auto-play video.
“We’ve just seen this massive transformation,” Singh 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.’”
Not that there’s anything wrong with Vine, the popular six-second video network that Twitter bought in 2012. But Vine is still a niche channel, one that doesn’t offer advertising, and Twitter aims to become a major player in the video distribution marketplace.
That’s almost certainly why Singh, Twitter’s head of TV and video, sat for an interview on stage at the VidCon conference this week in Anaheim, California. VidCon is the massive annual confab for video creators, their fans and the industry that they have spawned. The three-day event, now in its sixth year, is swarmed by 18,000 teens and millennials hoping to connect in person with video stars like Smosh, Burnie Burns, TheThirdPew, Markiplier and Ksiolajidebt.
Twitter is hoping to capture some of that youthful enthusiasm, and Singh said his company is well positioned to do that. 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.
“It’s one of the few places that you can really and truly engage with your audience, build up your audience, interact with your audience, reply back quickly and have a real conversation,” said Singh, who left YouTube for his position at Twitter last year. “And fans alike think of it as a way to directly connect with those creators.”
The Average Niche Deal Is 200% Higher Than Before Twitter’s Acquisition
What Twitter doesn’t do much of yet is pay creators, but Singh promises change will come there, as well. He said that Twitter is looking for ways to expand the Amplify program that shares revenue with major media publishers — think the NFL and ESPN — for providing video clips that brands can advertise against. Currently, Amplify has 130 partners globally, and Singh said Twitter is “starting to think about how to expand to all types of creators.”
Niche is another Twitter-owned avenue that can help creators make money. Niche acts as an intermediary between video producers and brands, and Singh said Niche has doubled the amount it’s paying creators since Twitter acquired the company in February. (A Twitter spokesperson clarified that the average deal is now double the previous total.)
Niche doesn’t discriminate against other social channels; it also makes deals to distribute sponsored video to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Vine, and Singh said Twitter is committed to keeping Niche open to all platforms. He also said Niche users can expect improvements to the cross-platform analytics tools in the next several weeks.
As for Vine and Periscope, Singh said, Twitter is still focusing on adding more users to the community and encouraging new forms of content, rather than looking for ways to monetize the platforms. He’s especially 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. And there’s my personal favorite, there’s a pianist out there who will just take requests on demand via the chats. He’s sitting there playing songs and a chat will come in: ‘Can you play Katy Perry’s latest?’ and he’ll respond to that.
“It’s great new evolving formats that we would have never predicted five months ago before launch.”