Twitter seems to be in an all-out drive to expand its video content. The San Francisco-based company is looking for partners that can deliver premium video content in sports, news and entertainment in Latin America, said Kay Madati, Vice President and Global Head of Content Partnerships at Twitter, in an interview with Latin Trade.
Through an aggressive content partnership strategy, it has potentially brought thousands of hours of live stream and video highlight programming to its platform. In September, the company unveiled 53 video content partnerships in Asia-Pacific, and last week, 11 more in Latin America.
“We have 11 deals that end up executing about 30 different pieces of premium video content across the platform. Everything from sports with Fox Sports or the NBA, to news with Reuters, Vice Media and BuzzFeed, and on the entertainment side, we have some executions with Viacom, SonyTV and Turner Broadcasting,” said Kay Madati. (The complete list of partnerships here)
Their hunt for new partners did not end last week with an event to announce their new deals. On the contrary, it is the beginning. “I still think there is a whole lot more opportunity. That’s why are doing the event to let the market know that Twitter is an essential premium video content destination, and continue to create the momentum in the marketplace,” Madati added.
Videos on the rise
Among big tech companies, content partnerships have been a particularly dynamic area in recent months. Every big tech firm has been trying out new products, new concepts, and new association schemes, where tech companies oftentimes fully finance risky new pilots.
Collaboration is seen as part of Twitter´s overall mission. “Our job here at Twitter, and our mission, is to keep the world informed and serve the public conversations. Our content effort really exists as a subset of that mission. We are very focused on delivering content to the platform that continues to keep our users informed and serve the conversation around that content,” Madati said.
But Madati’s success with this strategy is now more important than ever for his company. Per Variety’s NY digital editor Todd Spangler, video has become increasingly important to the company’s business. “In announcing Q1 2018 results, Twitter said video now accounts for more than half of its ad revenue and was again the fastest-growing ad format in period. In its presentation to Madison Avenue buyers in April, Twitter said video views have nearly doubled in the past year, but it declined to provide specific numbers.”
Latin America offers a good marketing space since internet users are heavy video consumers. “We see an immense amount of growth and opportunity for us in the region. It’s super important to our growth strategy,” he said.
How partnerships operate
Under partnership agreements, advertisers can sponsor the partner’s original video on its owned properties, and then retarget those audiences on Twitter. In another direction, advertisers can choose specific video content to run ads next to content on Twitter, and the social platform can insert their ads into relevant partner’s original video content.
In practice, this also means that producers will probably create more bespoke content for social platforms that can be launched and monetized in real-time.
Twitter has some advantages over other tech competitors, Madati thinks. “We believe our unique value proposition begins, first and foremost, on our audience. We have a highly influential audience, engaged, and receptive and that is very valuable when you think about the moments that can be created on a platform in and around content.”
Pepe López de Ayala, Twitter’s Managing Director for Spanish Speaking markets in Latin America, mentioned another element that makes a partnership desirable: Twitter can prove to be incredibly effective at extending TV stories to a second screen. “We know the importance of the second screen. I believe, the only second screen related to TV watchers is Twitter,” he said. “I think that is a key difference when we talk about content distribution, and partners.”
The $2.4 billion-revenue company Twitter, competes with others “that offer products that enable everyone to create and share ideas and other content and information,” the 2017 annual report states. This competitive set has names such as Facebook (including Instagram and WhatsApp) and Alphabet (including Google and YouTube), Microsoft (including LinkedIn), Snap and Oath (formerly known as Yahoo), as well as social media and messaging companies with strongholds in particular countries.
Partnerships are also key to unblock a road that seems to be closing for Twitter. “Increasingly, we face competition for live premium video content rights from other digital distributors and traditional television providers, which may limit our ability to secure such content on economic and other terms that are acceptable to us in the future,” the annual report adds.
New products on the company’s pipeline? “We do not have any new announcements to date around the product evolution. I can tell you that the way that we look at our content universe at Twitter is tied directly to how our product iterates on the platform,” Kay Madati stated. “We continue to focus on how people can discover this video content on the platform.”
Surprisingly, at Twitter there is not much hype around the use of novel technologies. Not even around the use of established ones. They see Artificial Intelligence, along with VR and 360 videos, as other formats of storytelling. “While we have not seen a lot of it execute across the platform, behind the scenes, of course, we are looking at these new technologies and opportunities. While we have not gotten to the point where we have structured a content deal around it we, like everybody else, are experimenting and watching to see what the user preferences are around these new video formats. When we think about what we have to announce today, we are heavily focused on traditional video content and distribution.”
With 326 million users, video content partnerships are the new bet to honor its promise: “From breaking news and entertainment to sports, politics, and everyday interests, when it happens in the world, it happens on Twitter.”