Twitter introduces pre-roll ads for Periscope

Users almost universally dislike pre-roll video ads, but in an effort to bolster its advertising revenue, Twitter this week announced that it will expand its pre-roll video ad product to live and replay Periscope streams.

An expansion of Twitter’s Amplify product, which was launched in 2015 to offer “video monetization at scale,” the new offering, Ads on Periscope, will have the same format as the video ads Twitter currently runs on videos on its service.

According to Periscope group product manager Mike Folgner, “Ads on Periscope videos are a new way to use live and on-demand video to reach audiences at the most relevant moments. Periscope’s authentic and interactive nature brings people immediately into compelling live experiences and the conversation that surrounds them.”

How will brands deal with live video challenges?

For Twitter, bringing pre-roll video ads to Periscope is not just a pure revenue play designed to benefit Twitter; it’s a content creator engagement play. With competitors, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, vying to keep some of their most important users (read: influencers and publishers) active on their platforms, monetization is something Twitter can’t overlook.

If content creators don’t see the benefit of creating content for Periscope, they’re likely to move to platforms that promise to deliver a return.

Folgner says that “for creators and publishers that use Periscope to go live on Twitter every day, these pre-roll ads present a new way to monetize their video content.” According to reports, content creators typically receive a 70-30 creator-Twitter ad revenue split with Amplify, and that type of split will apply to Ads on Periscope.

Of course, Twitter has to sell the ads for everybody to make money, and the launch of Ads on Persicope comes at a difficult time. Major advertisers have revolted against YouTube following news articles highlighting how their ads are being displayed on videos with offensive and extremist content.

And live video platforms such as Facebook Live have come under scrutiny too after they have been used to broadcast horrible events, including crimes and suicides.

Ads on Periscope will operate against what Periscope’s Folgner refers to as “brand-safe” inventory, and Twitter’s announcement states that live video inventory will be available on Periscope streams broadcast by “select premium publishers” – so it would appear that Twitter is well-aware of the growing advertiser concerns that it must allay.

But as the PewDiePie brouhaha demonstrates, even supposedly premium content creators with inventory sold to brands as valuable and safe isn’t without risk.

Twitter’s ability to manage that risk as advertisers become more risk-averse will likely determine just how successful Ads on Periscope is.

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