Twitter has opened up another place for video ads, the buzziest online advertising sector, as it looks to find more revenue for its flight to profitability this year.
Starting Tuesday, select partners can apply to have ads run in front of Periscope videos.
These pre-roll ads come at an important time for Twitter — though isn’t it always an important time (cc @realDonaldTrump)? The company, which Wall Street has obliterated for a lack of user growth and an utter loss of faith in leadership, is trading at record lows. Meanwhile, Snapchat is gaining the respect of the Street and pretty much everyone else (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?).
The release also comes at an uneasy time in the online video advertising industry. YouTube is currently facing intense scrutiny from big name brands who have found their ads placed within or on top of YouTube videos promoting terrorism and extremism. Mashable reported ride-hailing giant Lyft was a victim and immediately pulled its ads from the platform.
Back to Periscope: The introduction of ads directly to Periscope videos arrives just two days after the app’s second birthday.
Why now? Matthew Derella, Twitter’s VP of Global Revenue and Operations, noted the success they’ve seen of the pre-roll format on other Twitter video.
Pre-roll on Periscope “now unlocks another rich source of brand safe content for marketers to reach consumers at the most relevant moments,” Derella wrote in an email.
“Brand safe” is the key word here.
Pre-roll ads will be a very, very slow rollout, and for now, only includes a very, very limited number of applicants. There are no launch partners. Instead, Twitter is offering it up to partners of its Amplify program. Twitter previously reported that there are more than 300 Amplify partners in over 25 countries.
“The pre-roll will only apply to custom Amplify campaigns, meaning the advertiser and publisher will be matched as part of a holistic advertising program and brands know exactly where their ads are showing up,” Derella wrote. “These campaigns are consistent with our ads policy against the promotion of any hate content, sensitive topics, and violence globally.”
This isn’t the first time Twitter has pumped up Periscope to brands. Companies also can pay to promote tweets that include Periscope video and coordinate advertising campaigns with Periscope creators.
So don’t expect to see so many pre-rolls ads everywhere. Derella said he could imagine a scenario where a network or a publisher wants pre-rolls ads in front of live streams of a red carpet event. “It is similar to our existing custom Amplify video offering but now expands the pool to Periscope live and replay video as well,” he wrote.
Periscope creators, many of whom have seen their engagement and views on the platform drop from thousands to hundreds in the past year, expressed mixed reactions to the release. None of these creators currently have access to the feature because of its limited release. Still, they are the ones most familiar with the platform as daily users.
Darius Arya, @DariusAryaDigs on Twitter, said he saw potential for smart partnerships between brands and live. “I think that if the ad fits the session and can enhance the given subject / location and potentially assist / support the cause,” he wrote, “then they would be appreciated and respected.”
Alex Pettitt, one of the most popular broadcasters on Periscope, said his biggest concern was how viewers would see it. “It will be interesting to see how pre-rolls effect viewer behaviour (especially with them being on the live broadcast),” Pettitt wrote. “But in general as long as the broadcaster has the option to switch ads off either the live (video) or replay and can select certain ads that they do not want to appear on their content I think it’s a great move.”
“They all need to just stop with commercials. It’s all about integration.”
“It’ll definitely bring everyone’s numbers down unless they do more to promote their creators,” wrote Adam Rose, an actor starring in the new Amazon show Budding Prospects. “They all need to just stop with commercials. It’s all about integration. Influencer marketing is still way undervalued.”
While these creators have obvious admiration and love for Twitter, there’s still the rapid growth of Facebook Live. Facebook, meanwhile, has been testing mid-roll advertisements. But there’s something special about Twitter and Periscope, they say.
“Their algorithm allows for an immediate international, truly global group to jump on and chat / learn. Every time I have people from literally everywhere,” Arya wrote.