Twitter has followed YouTube’s lead on offering brands and advertisers the chance to promote their products and services videos, and according to Advertising AgeTwitter may soon offer users a 'related videos' feature too, just like YouTube does. We know that YouTube users love to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. Well, guess what. According to new research, Twitter users love to discover, watch and engage with video, too!

Twitter Video: Binge-watching Like YouTube 

On May 15th 2015, Ad Age reported that Twitter was set to borrow features from YouTube in an attempt to sell more video advertising. Twitter currently features a link to allow the user to “view more videos” after they have finished watching a video that has been natively uploaded to the social media site. Clicking this triggers more native videos by the same account as the video the users has just watched. However, according to people briefed on the company’s plans, Twitter is looking at a redesign of this related-videos functionality to:

“get people to binge on videos as they do on YouTube.”

According to Ad Age’s news sources, Twitter's new related-videos feature would appear just underneath a video as it is playing, and will pull in videos from different accounts - just like it does on YouTube. So, based on this news story, advertisers might mistakenly jump to the conclusion that Twitter is rapidly evolving into YouTube Lite. But, that would ignore some new research, which contradicts this analysis.

82% of Twitter Users Watch Videos on Twitter

Twitter itself just published some new user research on its blog to uncover how Twitter users currently consume and engage with video content.

The research found that 82% of Twitter users will watch a video content on the platform, with 90% of those Twitter video views occurring via a smartphone or tablet. But Twitter users don’t just watch video; they also create and upload it, with users 1.9x more likely to have uploaded a video to Twitter than the average internet user in America.

Twitter Users and Online Video

Data from Twitter.com May 2015

In terms of video content, 64% of Twitter users want more breaking news, with 54% requesting more live sports clips. 50% would like to more videos from TV shows, with 37% confirming they want to see more branded videos content. 45% Twitter users want more videos from celebrities, with a slightly lower percentage (40%) indicating they want more clips from other Twitter users.

An impressive 41% of Twitter users believe the site is a valued destination for discovering video, and will use it to keep up with news, and current events. The research states that those with an active Twitter account are 25% more likely than the average consumer to discover video. However, only 11% of users search Twitter to find video content on a specific subject, while 70% indicate that they only or mostly watch videos that they discover on their own feeds.

twitter drives video discovery

The study asserts that the reverse is true for YouTube with only 1 in 5 consumers confirming they mostly watch videos that they discover on Google's video platform, but a significant number (63%) state that they usually use search to find specific videos on YouTube. So, the report seems to suggest that consumers turn to Twitter to discover new videos, rather than use the social network to find something specific.

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Twitter's research indicates that native video uploads to the platform generates more engagement than videos shared, with 2.8x more Retweets, and 1.9x more Favorites.

In other words, consumers use Twitter and YouTube in fundamentally different ways. So, how do we reconcile the trends in the digital video marketing business reported by Ad Age with the critical data revealed in the new research?

Twitter Video vs YouTube Video

We can start by understanding that media companies have two audiences: Users and advertisers. To succeed long-term, Twitter needs to help consumers to discover content they don’t already know about. But, to succeed short-term, Twitter also needs to convince brands and agencies to test new advertising opportunities by comparing them to familiar concepts and by using terminology the industry already understands.

Next, advertisers who have tested the 'Promoted Video' feature on Twitter have seen it drive stronger engagement. According to Twitter for Business, fashion brand Paige Denim used the Promoted Video to showcase of its spring collection, a strategy that drove more new visitor traffic to its website than from any other digital platform.

Third, Twitter’s new research confirms an observation that I made earlier this year: “The digital video universe is far more segmented that I suspected. And I use the term ‘segmented’ instead of ‘fragmented’ because each of these worlds has its own language, its own culture and customs, as well as its own folk heroes.”

Online Video: Segmenting Not Fragmenting 

So, what should we do? Most of our colleagues and clients in the U.S. are going to be understandably confused, because the marketing they learned back in college was primarily “mass marketing” and the advertising that got them their first promotion was probably in “mass media.” So, we need a metaphor that will help them understand that the world of online video is segmenting, not fragmenting, so a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work.

This is hard, but let me know if this metaphor helps you explain the opportunities and threats to others: If you were going to launch a campaign in Europe, would you create a single online video in English and then add captions in French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish? Or, would you create six different videos – each one tailored for people who have different languages, different cultures and customs, as well as different folk heroes?

The first approach would probably have lower production costs, but the second approach would probably be more effective. So, there’s no right or wrong answer. There’s just a series of trade-offs that will probably result in you creating different videos for the six largest markets in Europe, but not for all 48 different countries.

Well, the online video market in the U.S. is also more segmented than it was a couple of years ago. And, there’s no right or wrong answer. But, it may make sense to have different video marketing strategies for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine, while it may not make sense to have different video marketing strategies for more than 30 different platforms.

I recognize that this is a very different world for Americans who grew up with three television networks. But this is the early 21st Century, not the late 20th Century.