How Twitter Will Ensure Brand Safety For Video Advertisers In 2019

As Twitter’s video ad business grows, so does the amount of user-generated content on its platform. The challenge for Twitter, and brands that advertise on it, is to keep brands safe from, well, the Internet.

In April 2018, 50% of Twitter’s business came from video advertising – and that still holds true today. In Q1 2018, the company made at least $287 million from video ads, according to Recode.

AdExchanger caught up with Sarah Personette, Twitter’s VP of global client solutions at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, to learn how the social media giant plans to grow its video ad business even more in 2019.

AdExchanger: What’s the current state of video advertising on Twitter?

SARAH PERSONETTE: The world has become mobile, and mobile has increasingly become video. We made a pretty significant investment in making our video products stronger, better and more performant. And with that, in-stream video sponsorships, in-stream video ads and website video cards are driving the bulk of our business.

Over 50% of our business is coming from video at this point. We believe that this will continue into 2019 as consumer behavior shifts there, but also as the demand from brand advertisers continues for using video to tell great creative stories. But [they] also want brand-safe, premium quality, scaled content that they can integrate their brands into, which is what our products offer.

With so much user-generated content on Twitter, what are you doing to help brands ensure their content stays safe?

There are a few ways that we do this. One is from a machine-learning perspective, making sure that we have the right tools and protocols in place to provide the right type of environment for [brands].

We also [ensure brand safety] from a content perspective. We have over 950 content partnerships right now that we’ve done in 2018 alone, and we’ve just launched five more partnerships at CES. The integration of brands into this brand-safe content, where they can choose which publishers they are associated with or which genres of content they’re associated with, also ensures a brand-safe, high-quality premium video environment.

What do some of those video partnerships entail?

On Monday we announced a partnership with PGA. We’re extending our coverage into the weekends. On Tuesday we launched our partnership with Fox Sports and the Women’s World Cup in Paris. I’m particularly excited about that because it helps to celebrate women in sports.

We have also launched with BuzzFeed. We are continuing a renewal of “AM2DM.” It’s an incredible example of a publisher understanding the fast, fun, real-time conversant nature of the platform, and they do it exceptionally well.

We also announced a partnership with The Ringer. We have done some work with them on “Game of Thrones,” and we’re also taking that to another show, “Big Little Lies.”

With all these new partnerships, are you thinking about any new ad units you’re going to roll out?

Not at the moment. Our ad units, between the in-stream sponsorships and in-stream ads, are doing exceptionally well for advertisers, so we’ll continue to focus on building the best, most performant tech stack to help propel that inventory forward.

Do you plan on doing anything in the programmatic space more in 2019?

Not at this time.

What do you think is the most powerful aspect of Twitter for advertisers?

The power of Twitter is our audience. It is the most leaned-in, receptive and valuable audience, because Twitter is what’s happening. We’ve found that our advertisers are really successful when they’re launching something new on the platform and when they’re connecting with what’s happening in the moment.

Our advertising capabilities are designed to drive business objectives across the entire purchase funnel.

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Trump Threatens Investigation of Twitter

President Donald Trump threatened a government investigation of Twitter, just the latest volley at edge providers from inside the Beltway, where real ‘fake new,’ Russian election meddling, third-party data sharing and more have D.C. rethinking the hands-off approach to social media platforms.

The President tweeted Thursday:

That appears to be a reaction to conservative group Project Veritas’ undercover video purporting to have uncovered such “shadow banning” of conservative political thought by Twitter, based on a conversation with someone identified as a former Twitter software engineer recorded in a causal setting without his knowledge.

Project Veritas is dedicated to exposing the so-called “deep state,” the idea that there is a “shadow” government cabal working to manipulatepolicy against the interests of the Trump Administration.

Vice News Thursday followed up on the Veritas story Thursday (July 26), which is almost certainly what the President was reacting too since it talked about shadow banning a spokesperson for Trump’s son, Donald, and the head of the RNC.

Certainly Project Veritas saw it as validation for its original video release. “We are excited to see what the President plans to do, and we will be happy to offer our assistance,” said Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe.

Hill Republicans have been complaining about what they see as an online effort to promote liberal speech and suppress conservative thought. At an FCC oversight hearing this week, for example, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) talked about the online attacks against conservative FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and suggested it was a truism these days that conservatives had to be careful when expressing their opinions.

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Video Accounts For 50% of Twitter’s Ad Revenue

Twitter has been pushing hard into video and its paying off. The company announced today that it has beat forecasts for Q1 2018, helped by a 53% jump in international revenue, which was led by strength in the Asia-Pacific region. Twitter attributes revenue growth in the region being primarily driven by growth in video in Japan and performance ad products in its China export market.

The company says that video, which was its fastest-growing ad format in Q1 (again), accounted for more than half of its $575 million in ad revenue for the quarter.

Total ad engagements for the company increased 69% year-over-year, resulting from increased aggregate demand, continuing mix shift toward video ad impressions, and improved CTR, which grew on a year-over-year basis across the majority of ad types as ad relevance continues to improve. CTR also benefited from the ongoing growth of more engaging video product features in Q1 — such as the Video Website Card and Video App Card — says the company.

Going forward, the company plans to remain focused on online video to drive revenue, it also says it will introduce new ways to buy ads on the platform. Other revenue priorities for Twitter include improving its core ad offerings through better performance and measurement, including ad platform improvements, self-serve measurement studies, and third-party accreditation; and continuing to grow DES revenue through its product and channel segmented go-to-market approach.

Other key numbers from the earnings report:

– Increase of 6 million monthly active users from the previous quarter
– 336 million monthly active users Total
– $665 million in quarterly revenue (down 67 million from the prior quarter)
– $575 million in advertising revenue
– 69 million monthly active users in the United States
– Profit was $61 million
– Cost per engagement (CPE) was down 28 percent from the year prior

How HelloFresh Keeps Its Twitter Feed Engaging and Playful

What does it take to keep your social media content fresh, engaging and on brand? Recipe-kit delivery service HelloFresh finds that a playful tone, a sense of immediacy and a close eye on what people are talking about online keeps it top of mind with its audience.

We spoke with Clementine Berlioz, senior social media manager at @HelloFresh, to learn more about their Twitter strategy.

What role does Twitter play in your social strategy?

Twitter is one of our main channels. We post throughout the day to catch our audience at the right times. Twitter offers a unique sense of immediacy by allowing HelloFresh to build direct connections with our customers. We love rewarding customers for cooking our recipes in real time. We often use Twitter to experiment with new formats. When something works, we adapt it to other channels.

HelloFresh has a really strong brand voice. How would you describe it?

Our voice is friendly, approachable and encouraging. Our goal is to reinvigorate home cooking by showing delicious recipes can be quick and easy to make. We love Retweeting customers’ pictures with empowering shout-outs. Working in the food space demands creativity. This is why we can also be witty and playful, especially while using emojis and GIFs.

How does that carry over into your visual brand identity?

In order to make our audience hungry for our recipes, we use bright and colorful photography and videos. We always keep in mind that the food can’t look intimidating. This is why you will always be able to identify familiar ingredients in any recipe we share.

Can you share a few examples of Tweets that capture the HelloFresh brand?

This Tweet provides our audience with a practical, easy solution to fix a common problem.

We love appropriating Twitter trends and being playful with emojis and GIFs.

We use Twitter Polls to learn about topics that interest our audience. That helps us make informed decisions for future content creation.

Injecting or revealing humor always works better for engagement.

Rewarding the community for cooking with us and being loyal customers is very important. We have an ongoing weekly contest #HelloFreshPics to encourage customers to share pictures of their meals, and we are happy to Retweet the best ones.

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Twitter’s Prager: Video Gives Advertisers Premium Safety

Twitter says it wants to help down-play shady user-generated content (UGC) in the advertising offerings it serves up to big agencies.

in this video interview with Beet.TV, Twitter agency development director Stephanie Prayer says the network is trying to soothe brands’ concerns over the safety of environments in which ordinary folk publish their own content.

“Twitter can solve a lot of their brand safety concerns,” she says. “We have really stringent abuse policies. Coupled with the machine learning that we’re starting to use, any not-safe content on the platform is removed instantly.

“We’re doubling-down on video because it brings us the ability to bring in a depth of content that’s premium and publisher-based. We can weed out the UGC and make this an environment that’s safe for advertisers, to alleviate a lot of concerns.”

Twitter has been less impacted than YouTube by this year’s consternation over the appearance of brand advertisers’ messages against questionable content.

But the social service is also on its own mission to gobble higher video ad CPMs by launching a range of video services and partnerships live.

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Why the Digital Brand-Safety Panic Won’t Help TV in the End

Many of the digital ads served on dominant social platforms like Facebook are adjacent to original or shared news content. But that’s the opposite of TV, where safer scripted shows and live sports dominate ad spending. News, financially, is a blip.

Now a big pivot is under way. Just as the big TV networks’ annual upfront pitches to advertisers get underway, the major digital platforms are gunning for entertainment. Their goal, in part, is to create a much safer environment for brands where adjacency isn’t an unfortunate bug, but rather a feature. Like TV. It eliminates the odds of being next to extremist, critical or polarizing content, not to mention so-called fake news.
It will also increasingly undermine TV’s ability to differentiate itself by saying its shows are the only brightly lit entertainment options out there.

Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube are now somewhat quietly engaged in a footrace to create the best feed for free, high-quality entertainment video content. Some of it live. Some of it scripted. Much of it ad supported.

Facebook, for example, in February hired MTV executive vice president Mina Lefevre to build out the social network’s original programming.

Snapchat, which has long been building out its Discover platform for professional publishers, in March signed a deal with Mark Burnett’s production company to create original shows for Discover.
YouTube just told ad buyers that it is creating six original series with brand-friendly stars like Kevin Hart and Katy Perry, not to mention even more for its paid service YouTube Red.

And Twitter at its first-ever NewFront rolled out 16 streaming video partnerships — many of them focused on lifestyle, sports and entertainment. (Though news is still there.)

This pivot to showbiz is not just a play to capture higher video ad rates. It’s meant to loosen the flow of advertising out of TV overall and into digital platforms.

This is happening but not fast enough. In 2016, according to Zenith, linear TV still accounted for 42% of ad spend. Further, Magna said that TV still remains quite strong in luxury.

Brand-safe entertainment content can speed the flow of these dollars. What’s more, it can create a more attractive free alternative to paid video subscription services like Netflix and and HBO Now that are popular, in part, because there are no ads.

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Twitter In Unprecedented Recovery, Says Analyst Greenfield

It’s not often a company sees its share price rise despite reporting a fall in revenue. But that’s what happened to Twitter last week.

On Wednesday, the social network company reported Q1 2017 revenue down 24% on the prior year – and yet, Twitter’s share price is up nearly 20% at time of writing. So, what’s behind the contrasting trends? For one, Twitter’s net loss improved after cutting costs.

But BTIG media and technology analyst Rich Greenfield puts Twitter’s improved Wall Street performance down to a simple algorithm change the company made more than a year ago – to stuff users’ timelines with less-new but nonetheless interesting tweets; to undo its traditional reverse-chronological timeline.

“That change has enabled users to find more value in the service,” Greenfield tells Beet.TV in this video interview. “It’s no longer just what happened a minute ago – it’s ‘what how you not seen since you used the service last that you should see?’

“That small change has been monumental in terms of re-accelerating user growth, because now Twitter becomes a lot more useful. You’re not just going on and being baffled about what to look at or why your’e seeing these recent tweets; you’re seeing things that are of interest to you, the consumer. And so, usage is going up.”

Specifically, Twitter’s Q1 2017 monthly-active-user (MAU) count of 328 million was 6% higher than the prior year’s quarter – not a stellar jump but positive momentum for a company that has struggled to show forward traction since bowing on Wall Street in 2013. Bear in mind that Twitter’s share price is still some 58% below its IPO price, even after this week’s gains.

Twitter’s MAU dipped slightly in Q4 2015, after which it made the algorithm change in February 2016. Since then, MAU has continued growing. But the real needle the change has moved is domestic MAU, which had flatlined before the tweak.

“There aren’t many media companies that have started their descent, in terms of usage, and reversed (it),” Greenfield says. “Twitter is in the middle of a recovery that has never been seen before in digital, online media. It presents a significant opportunity on the stock side… usage is growing double-digits. As eyeballs follow … advertisers ultimately will follow.”

All the same, Twitter’s Q1 2017 advertising revenue was 11% down from the prior year.

From a glass-half-full investor’s perspective, the company’s headroom seems clear, and its advertising outlook may improve as TV and video deals flow in.

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