For quite some time it has been known that online content is a cash cow. Online content through video is extremely lucrative. Facebook figured this out and has urged users to upload video directly to Facebook rather than sharing YouTube or Vimeo urls. The next in line is Twitter. Twitter has announced they will release native video in the early part of 2015. They have also stated that native videos will play in a Twitter timeline but YouTube links will no longer have the expanded thumbnail in the Twitter card.
This is very similar to what Twitter did with Instagram photos. Those that have been on Twitter for several years can remember when Instagram photos would show up in the Twitter card of a Twitter timeline. Now, Instagram photos do not show up and users must click the link to see the photo. The same will be true for YouTube urls. Below is what the Twitter Card looks like for a YouTube url share prior to Twitter offering native video:
Note that in the Twitter timeline there is a youtube.com link and an option to click “view media” but there is not a video like Vine. Below you will see the difference. Notice my share of the YouTube video is just a link yet the Vine video by Your Golf Travel has a thumbnail and play button.
Something very important thing to be aware of is the Vine video has a play button right in the stream. The same is true when you use Twitter on mobile with your iPhone or Android phone. I fully expect the new native Twitter video to have the same play button as Vine. In fact, I feel as if there won’t be much of a difference other than the fact that you can upload up to 10 minutes of high quality video through Twitter video and Vine is a six second looping video which tends to not be of the best quality.
Will This Hurt YouTube?
When Twitter and Instagram parted ways in December of 2012 I honestly thought it would hurt Instagram. I was wrong. It actually encouraged Instagram users to spend more time in the Instagram app because they could not see photos on Twitter. Many college students used Twitter just to look at Instagram photos and they have since abandoned Twitter. In all reality, the decision to remove Instagram photos in the Twitter timeline backfired.
We fast forward just over two years and now Twitter has decided to take on an even bigger player in YouTube. Personally, I watch very few YouTube videos in my Twitter timeline but when a friend posts something interested I will click the link to watch. In the near future, clicking this link will send me to YouTube to spend more time in their app or on their website. I think we all know how addictive YouTube can be. Will this divert the attention on Twitter users to spend more time on YouTube?
At this point there is a very big difference in consuming content on Twitter and YouTube. Twitter content is in the moment and very brief. Twitter users do not sit and watch 10 minutes videos; they watch six second Vines. Even the most viral Tweets have a half life of about 20 minutes. YouTube is where users go to search videos. Most of these videos are not what I like to call “in the moment”. Do YouTube users search for the latest news broadcast? Likely not. They may search for information on a specific news story but they are not going to search “WRAL 6:00 News”.
Instead of thinking of it as YouTube losing out I think of it as Twitter opening up a new market. Time and again I have stated that Google and YouTube greatly struggle with real time and in the moment news and action. When it comes to sports, entertainment and live events Twitter dominates. While watching the College Football Playoff National Championship game we do not want to sit and read a 1500 word article on why a particular penalty was called. We want a 140 character explanation or a 25 second video. On to the next play!
Twitter will do very well with live news and sports highlights with native video. This is an area in which YouTube is lacking. If Twitter can offer a good analytics feature along with easy to convert iPhone or Android video they will get off the ground running with video content. If uploading video to Twitter is clunky and slow it will defeat the entire process. When Odell Beckman makes an amazing catch Twitter users want to tweet out the video that second, not 20 minutes later. In 20 minutes Beckham has already made three more great catches.
Can Twitter Make Money Off Video?
Absolutely! Fortune 500 companies have millions of dollars invested in video/TV advertising. Super Bowl commercials are $3 to $5 million for a reason. If Twitter can show brands that millions of people are watching video on their smartphone or on Twitter.com they will be able to charge a pretty penny for ad spots before, during and after videos.
It took YouTube several years to monetize videos; now it is a money printing machine for Google. My one concern for Twitter is the hosting of the video content. Hosting of that much content is not cheap. Twitter stated that users can upload the highest quality video as long as it is shorter than 10 minutes. With millions of users uploading 10 minute videos I would imagine server space will fill up quite quickly. Luckily, that is what investors are for. That said, if investors do not see a profit in the online video model of Twitter they have plenty of other places to sink their money.
Promoted Tweets and online advertising through Twitter has gotten off to a slow start. By looking at the Twitter stock chart it is evident that investors are worried about the future of the company. Can Twitter replicate Facebook’s 2014 with an amazing 2015? Online video may be the way in which Twitter turns the corner and shows huge gains in several consecutive quarters.