Earlier this year the Twitter marketing team commissioned a survey of its users so it could better understand how they consume and engage with videos shared on the social network. Its results, published this week, uncovered all sorts of interesting findings, including that 90 percent of video watched on Twitter is consumed on a mobile device. But most interesting to me is the survey’s discovery that native video on Twitter is 2.8 times more likely to be shared than video posted from another platform. In other words, if you upload a video directly to Twitter, it will receive nearly three times the retweets compared to a similar video that is first uploaded to YouTube and then shared on Twitter. It shouldn’t be surprising then that Twitter has invested heavily in its native video offerings. Last year it introduced advertising cards that allow advertisers to include video in promoted tweets, and then this January it followed up with a 30-second video tool it made available to all users. In March it unveiled Periscope, a mobile app that allows anyone to broadcast video live from their phone. And you’re likely already familiar with Vine, the six-second video app that’s owned by Twitter and is particularly popular with teens. Twitter isn’t the only social platform to wade into native video. Instagram rolled out a 15-second video tool in 2013. Facebook, which has allowed native video uploading for a few years now, recently began aggressively pushing it, instituting autoplay video and prioritizing it within the newsfeed (according to some measurements, Facebook native videos are now shared more on Facebook than YouTube videos). Not to be outdone, Tumblr revamped its own video tools and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is attempting to lure some of YouTube’s most successful stars onto the platform. And then this week Pinterest launched its own video-like offering in the form of an animated pin that exists somewhere between a video and a GIF. Why so much emphasis on video? For one, online video generates more engagement than any other form of media, especially on mobile. According to a report released by Simply Measured, video is shared a whopping 1,200 percent more often than text and link content combined. Mobile video viewing has increased by 127 percent in the last year and Cisco predicts that mobile video will make up 69 percent of the world’s internet traffic by 2018. With mobile internet use growing at a drastic rate, it seems clear that mobile users are primed for video consumption. More important, online video is extremely lucrative social media content, and many publishers are looking at the $76 billion TV ad market with the expectation that, any day now, that money will migrate online. A 2013 report from ReelSEO found 93 percent of marketers are using video in their campaigns and 73 percent planned to increase their video ad spend, and that trend has only continued. That’s because video advertising is extremely effective, producing much higher engagement rates than other other forms of media. Because of this, some video publishers are able to attract CPM rates comparable to what you’ll find in television advertising. Ad rates for online display ads, on the other hand, continue to decline and are miniscule compared to their print counterparts. With native social video becoming so ubiquitous, the question now is how to display it properly. You’ve likely noticed Facebook has instituted autoplay, a feature many advertisers request, for its videos. Many users, however, have found autoplay intrusive, in part because it quickly burns through your monthly data plan. That’s why Pinterest decided to forgo autoplay in its new video tool. “We have tested this extensively with users,” Tim Kendall, Pinterest’s general manager of monetization, told TechCrunch. “What we heard was, autoplay ads are interruptive, and this is so much better because it keeps me in control. We didn’t even bother testing autoplay [based on the response from our users with this product].” Users only see the animation in action when they’re scrolling or when they click directly on the promoted pin. For the past decade, YouTube has remained the dominant platform for online video, but it seems clear that other tech behemoths, all of which are chasing lucrative ad markets, will soon become formidable competitors when it comes to attracting both video creators and consumers. The challenge going forward, for both marketers and content creators, is deciding how to distribute their videos in a market that’s becoming increasingly fragmented. Gone are the days when you could simply upload your video to YouTube and then embed it on other channels. We’ve entered the era of multiple distribution platforms, each one just as important as the last. Matt Cooper is the CEO of Visually. Follow him on Twitter @matt_cooper.
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