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Twitter’s Trading Revenue For Influence

At their recent #VideoNow event, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey emphasized the value that creators had brought to Twitter, Vine and Periscope over the years, and how important they were to the growth of the platform. It was a love letter to creators, and for good reason. Video views on Twitter have increased by 150 times in the last year, and 90 percent of those views are on mobile, a stat that is largely attributable to premium content creators.

More important, however, was Twitter’s announcement of a bold new revenue sharing program for publishers, giving them a 70/30 split that’s head and shoulders above YouTube’s 55/45 split.

And while traditional players like the NFL, Fox, The Weather Channel, Univision, Buzzfeed and Sports Illustrated were on the list of publishers, Twitter also broke out a separate category for creators, companies like Whistle Sports, Maker Studios and Fullscreen. What’s significant here is that all three MCNs started off helping YouTubers maximize their monetization and opportunities, but have now matured into full on cross-platform networks.

When creator networks start acting as true distributed media publishers, it’s a win-win for everyone. Let’s take a look at what’s likely to happen as a result of this announcement:

  • Twitter creators get an opportunity to monetize content consumption from their huge follower bases whereas previously, they could only really monetize by sharing branded content from other channels or by posting sponsored tweets.
  • Twitter gets to recruit many of these popular YouTube stars to create some of that longer content on Twitter Video.

Discovery happens on distribution platforms, and today those distribution panels are social networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat. As people are more used to having multiple devices in front of them at all times, how and where they consume content is changing too. Why make it harder for people to go to another place to watch a video or see your photos when what they really want is to get in, find what they want, and get out?

That’s why the future of media is distributed publishing.

Distributed publishing is where the publisher (or creator) is at the center of the action, monetizing their content on multiple platforms instead of just from a single website.

Creators can then pool the traffic and insights from their owned network of distributed social channels and their sales teams can then buy and sell branded partnerships and bigger media commitments against them.

In this new paradigm, the easiest way to increase revenue is to increase the amount of “real estate” your brand owns, while maximizing efficiencies for reach, frequency, engagement and audience targeting.

So if you have more Twitter accounts on which to test content, you can collect more revenue from them.

Essentially, that’s why brands like Mashable, Buzzfeed, NowThisNews and others have spent years building out their social content teams. If you haven’t noticed lately, Buzzfeed owns and operates a host of Twitter channels like @YrBff @words, @animalquestions, @viralvines and more. The Buzzfeed Distributed team has been dedicated to creating content native to Twitter and other social platforms for close to a year now.

That valuable data they’ve been collecting can now be used to inform a complex and comprehensive audience parting strategy, which they’ll use to sell native ad partnerships. Only now, with Twitter’s rev share in the picture, they’ll be able to target relevant videos to those niche communities and generate even more revenue.

The fact that the “traditional” creator networks are being recognized as premium content alongside major media companies is a huge shift, and more and more media companies (and eventually consumer brands) will start to hire influencers, and niche content creators who already have done the hard part of building their audience.

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