Both Twitter and Facebook have continued their push into TV-like content this week, with new announcements on programming which will further expand their efforts.
Earlier this week, Facebook and the NFL announced a new partnership that will see Facebook granted distribution rights for official NFL video, including game recaps and official highlights. Facebook won't be airing full games on their platform, but they will be able to broadcast videos and recaps, as well as NFL-created programs, which will be 'uniquely packaged' for Facebook.
The deal is a significant one - while it's not the full games package that Twitter had last year (which has now been granted to Amazon), the NFL still attracts a huge audience, and the NFL Page on Facebook has close to 16 million followers, presenting significant opportunity.
The popularity of NFL content will also give Facebook more opportunity to showcase their new 'Watch' video platform, and thus, make more users aware of their exclusive video content.
That could give their Facebook-exclusive programming a big boost - Watch is yet to roll out to users beyond the U.S., and they likely still need to develop a better way to integrate Facebook video with home TV sets for optimal viewing, but it aligns with rising, on-the-go video consumption behaviors, and will give Facebook new opportunities to attract both viewers and advertisers.
Via NewFronts, Twitter's process is to pitch various programs which will be created dependent on advertiser interest. As reported by Recode, Twitter has now secured the required ad commitments to fund the programs, which means they'll all be broadcast as part of Twitter's expanding live content offering.
Interestingly, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also appears to have softened his emphasis on live content. During a recent interview as part of Dmexco in Germany, Dorsey emphasized Twitter's wider ranging content options when pressed on video, rather than taking the opportunity to talk up the platform's video focus, as he had been at previous events.
"The more that we can do to help people follow their interests in real time- whether it's served with text or images or video or livestreams- the more relevant they're going to be - there is no other platform with the amount of selection and comprehensiveness that we have."
That doesn't mean Twitter doesn't see a future in video content - evidently, from the production of their NewFronts shows, they do - but it may reflect the rising competition in the space, and the challenges Twitter might have in keeping up with Facebook, YouTube and Amazon as they look to create their own, exclusive video content.
From a marketing perspective, these announcements are significant. As viewer consumption behaviors shift to online providers, that'll give more businesses access to TV-type advertising. Sure, mid-roll ads on Facebook are painful, as they are on any platform, but the real opportunity of digital TV lies in niche focus, in making TV advertising more affordable through specific audience segmentation.
For example, Twitter's covering an ever-expanding range of live programming, from the Halo World Championships to the National Lacrosse League. Those are very niche, Twitter's not likely to generate billions of dollars in ad revenue from that content, but each has its own dedicated audience.
Now imagine if your business sold lacrosse gear. It'd be of significant value to you to reach audiences watching the NLL, right? Add enough of these niche broadcasts in and it cumulatively becomes a significant revenue opportunity - brands that have no chance of being able to afford traditional TV coverage are then able to present relevant video ads a more focused audience, which is not only much cheaper, but also likely more responsive.
This type of targeting also enables video advertisers to utilize social data. Facebook, for example, can ensure your ads are shown to the exact right audience, using their array of advanced segmentation options, and as more people consume more video content, the opportunities of this type of outreach continue to grow. It may not be as attractive as traditional TV advertising, but it could be significantly more effective.
This is why it's of benefit for marketers to see digital TV platforms take off. Video is already the most effective form of online content, generating the best response and engagement. If Facebook and Twitter can expand their original content offerings, that holds big potential for the expansion of video messaging.
These latest announcements are another step in that direction - there's still a way to go, but all marketers should be watching on with interest.