- Refine and Simplify the Product
- Maximize Live Video
- Encourage More Creators to the Platform
- Ensure Users Feel Safe to Express Themselves
- Work with the Development Community
Their progress on each has been mixed so far, but today, Twitter has announced a new option that aims to lift that third, and critically important, element - to encourage more creators to come to Twitter and Vine, and stay with them long term.
Via the Twitter blog, the platform has announced a new monetization program for creators which will enable them to place pre-roll ads before their video content on Twitter.
Initially available only to members of Twitter's Amplify program in the US, the new system will give users the option to simply check a box before they send a tweet in order to nominate that video for pre-roll content. And importantly, Twitter's offering an attractive revenue split - 70% percent to the content creator and 30% back to Twitter. By comparison, YouTube's split is 55% to creators, 45% to YouTube.
This is a big deal for Twitter. Creators have repeatedly criticized the platform for failing to offer relevant incentive programs, which has resulted in many of them taking their talents to other providers. Just last month, reports circulated that Vine, in particular, has been struggling of late, with a slew of executive departures and many of the app's top creators moving on to newer platforms where they can reach a wider audience and - most importantly - find more significant monetization opportunities.
Further pressing the issue, Facebook's also reportedly been offering big contracts to Vine and YouTube creators to get them to broadcast exclusively on Facebook Live instead - with some prominent creators being paid up to $24,000 per video posted to Live.
And that push has definitely had an impact - as per Business Insider:
"Ray William Johnson, best known for his videos on YouTube, began promoting his Facebook page as a place to find "more videos" on YouTube in the description of a video posted in early May. Since then, Johnson has greatly reduced the amount of YouTube content that he posts, all while upping his posts on his Facebook Page to a near-daily rate. Johnson has not been active on Vine for some time now. His last post on the platform was at the end of January."
In order to stem that tide, Twitter's introduced a range of measures to boost the network's appeal within the creative community, including improved Twitter/Vine profile integration, enabling users to display their Vine loops and connect to their Vine presence direct from Twitter, and the extension of Twitter and Vine video length limits, providing more of a canvas to work with.
But monetization is the big ticket item that creators want - and if they can't reach as many people on Twitter as they can on Facebook or YouTube, Twitter needs to sweeten the deal, hence the improved 70/30 revenue split.
(And worth noting for clarity, today's update relates to Twitter video content only, though Vine has had a similar system in place since June.)
Twitter's touting three specific benefits through their new Amplify Publisher Program:
- Industry leading revenue share model
- Complete opt-in control / flexibility. Program participants can either elect to opt-in videos Tweet-by-Tweet, or pre-set monetization for all of their videos
- Content can be opted-in for monetization 100% non-exclusively, meaning creators can elect to monetize it on Twitter as well as other platforms
That last point is also of particular significance given their current battles - Twitter's essentially leaving the door open for creators to post their content on other platforms, thereby expanding their monetization potential.
Basically, Twitter's doing all they can to keep creative talent from leaving, even if that means not requesting exclusivity.
Twitter's also added a new "Earnings" section to their Engage mobile app for creators which will enable users to track how much they're generating from video ads.
In addition to this, Twitter's released a new Media Studio tool to help creators better manage and publish video content on the platform.
As per Twitter:
"Media Studio, which replaces video.twitter.com, is an even more comprehensive desktop destination where you can access all of our video publishing tools and resources in one place."
Media Studio provides a range of new tools and functions, including a new unified media library where users can access all their media (including GIF and image content), tweet scheduling tools, account access/permissions controls and system stability and upload improvements.
The update to Twitter's monetization options are long overdue and will be beneficial for creators, for sure - but will they be enough to keep those top video influencers on platform? It's become a harder and harder sell for Twitter - with the platform's monthly active user count stalling, and Facebook's continuing to rise, it makes sense for creators to consider Facebook's options in particular, especially given the expansion of Facebook Live. There's also Snapchat to consider, and now Instagram's Stories, on top of YouTube as well. The options available on other, more popular platforms are increasing, and the longer Twitter remains stagnant, the less appealing it becomes.
But the bigger challenge for Twitter in this context is "what else can they do?" It's taken too long for Twitter to provide monetization tools, but through that non-exclusivity clause, they'll likely be hoping that a portion of the creative community will take a chance on these new options and see what results they get. To win them over, Twitter will need to boost the reach of that content as much as possible to underline to publishers why they should stick around.
Aside from that, Twitter will also be hoping their upcoming live TV deals bring in a significant enough audience to keep creators interested. If not, the alternative options available are pretty appealing.
UPDATE (9/1): Twitter has also announced that creators brands will be able to monetize Periscope live-stream content through Amplify. Brands will also be able to partner with premier content creators through the program.