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Twitter's Video Ad Strategy Now Looks Like YouTube's Ad Strategy

If you like pre-roll ads in front of your videos, you'll like this news.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Earlier this week, Twitter showed off Moments, a new way of organizing content on the social network. Here’s another change in the New Jack Dorsey Era: The company is taking a different approach to video ads.

More precisely: Twitter is adopting YouTube’s video advertising approach.

What that means is that publishers and video makers can upload their video to Twitter, and Twitter will attach short “pre-roll” ads in front of those clips and split the ad revenue with the video owners. Which is how YouTube, the world’s biggest video site, does it, too.

The new plan doesn’t replace Twitter’s first attempt to make money from video — a much more complicated approach where Twitter and video owners worked together to try to get advertisers to buy Twitter’s “Promoted Tweet” units. But it means the company will have a strategy that’s much more familiar to the ad world, and the world of video producers.

Twitter doesn’t have anything like the volume of video that YouTube does, but it will try to entice video makers to get more up there by offering more attractive terms than YouTube. Google’s site keeps 45 percent of the revenue from ads it sells; people familiar with Twitter’s plans say it will only take 30 percent of ad sales.

Twitter’s new plan also, for the moment, lets it leapfrog Facebook, which has yet to roll out a plan for generating revenue from all the video that has shown up on that platform in the last year.

Facebook is trying out a strategy with a handful of video makers to place ads near — but not in front of — their videos and share that revenue. But Facebook executives have repeatedly said they don’t want to use pre-roll ads — the format advertisers are most comfortable with — and it’s unclear whether advertisers will like what Facebook is offering instead. At a press event last week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly referred to her company’s video ad plans as a “test.”

Here’s a graphic that attempts to explain Twitter’s old and new approaches, unveiled by product lead Baljeet Singh onstage at an event for advertisers in New York today: “Advertisers want more scale and they want the process to be easier.” The event was also the first public event that Dorsey has appeared at since his Monday coronation.

And here’s a graphic showing some of the 200 video owners Twitter has recruited for the new plan. Note that Vox Media, which owns this site, is among them:

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