Working towards its vision of providing greater access across India, Twitter is building relationships with brands, advertisers and marketers. In sync with the network globally, Twitter India aims to fuel growth through video and live offerings even as it increases transparency for all ads on its platform and adopts stricter advertising policies. Taranjeet Singh of Twitter India chats with BrandWagon’s Chandni Mathur about the network’s video-first strategy and more. Edited excerpts:
Twitter has undergone a bit of a restructuring lately. What is its vision going ahead?
In Q4 2016, we realigned the current structure to position Twitter for better long-term growth. Earlier, globally, we had three different sales teams which were market facing. Now, we have consolidated and merged our revenue teams under one single unit — the Twitter client solutions team — and the focus is to get better alignment and synergy across the market. This gives us an opportunity to go far deeper with our clients and also build newer ones. We want to give them the right attention and service both in terms of products and research, helping them scale up their communication on our platform.
Ten years on, the network’s focus seems to be on boosting live video offerings. What is going to be your business strategy for Twitter India?
Live is core to Twitter; live video is second nature. We are focussing on three areas to fuel our growth in India — bringing more live video/programming to audiences in India, monetising our content partnerships through in-stream video sponsorship and promotion opportunities, including partners such as International Cricket Council, Red Chillies Entertainment, Buzzfeed, etc; and extending the social connection for millions of Indians through Twitter Lite. Recently, over 35 premium video content partnerships were introduced in Asia Pacific, which include content partnerships with ICC, Cricbuzz, Premier Futsal India, Filmfare Awards, Yash Raj Films, Bloomberg Asia Pacific, NDTV and Network18.
From Facebook to Twitter — social media platforms are restructuring themselves with a sole focus on video. Is your character limit extension a bid to beat stagnated growth?
Live streaming video drives conversation, connection and engagement on Twitter, reinforcing our position as the place to see what’s happening in the world and what people are talking about. Video and Live are key pillars supporting our growth and we continue to build our monetisation strategy around them. Live broadcast on Periscope began more than two years ago, in 2015. Since then, we have integrated more live video capabilities on Twitter.
We believe that everyone should be able to easily express themselves on Twitter, irrespective of the language they speak. However, not all languages can convey the same amount of information in the same amount of characters. We realised that people were facing this issue and decided to extend the character limit to 280 for most languages, after extensive research. And we have seen interest from brands in experimenting with the concept and there are some who have asked how they can integrate 280 characters in their brand campaigns.
What steps have been taken to increase transparency of ads in India?
We recently announced our efforts to increase transparency for all ads on Twitter, including political ads and issue-based ads, not just in India but around the world. We will also improve controls for our customers and adopt stricter advertising policies. In the coming weeks, we will launch an industry-leading transparency centre that will offer everyone visibility into who is advertising on Twitter, details behind those ads, and tools to share feedback with us. However, these updates will be unveiled first in the US, available to the rest of the markets at a later stage.
In terms of usage by brands, how are Twitter tools being consumed in India?
Brands in India are keen on marketing innovation and developing Twitter-first campaigns. With the rise of video, the one product that has been very popular among Indian advertisers is First View, which is a 24-hour takeover of the prime real estate property on Twitter. For example, Motorola booked 14 First Views to support its sponsorship of IPL team Rising Pune Supergiant, showcasing all matches featuring the team; it dotted timelines with fun and quirky videos. Nestlé KitKat India devised a dynamic Promoted Trend campaign that ran for five days and used 26 hashtags.
It played up trending conversations and changed the promoted trend in real-time to mirror what people were talking about to ensure users have a relevant, contextual, live and enriching break every time they check the platform. A recent e-marketer report, Worldwide Digital Video Viewers, indicates that the number of digital video viewers will grow to well over a billion by 2020 in key Asia Pacific markets. As video consumption continues to accelerate, we see a lot more experimentation with a range of video solutions on Twitter from First Views to GIFs, short- and long-form video, in-stream video sponsorships as well as Twitter Moments.
What is Twitter’s video strategy across markets? Are advertisers using Periscope in India as effectively as they are in other markets?
Brands in India have been leveraging Periscope to share moments with their audience in real-time right since day one. A lot of automobile as well as smartphone companies are using live video on Twitter.
What opportunity does partnering with Httpool provide Twitter?
There are a few clients that we manage directly; other clients will be managed by Httpool. We already have a partnership with it in 22 markets, so it understands us and our requirements to help strengthen our presence in India, which is one of the fastest growing markets for us.
How did Twitter leverage the festive season in India?
Our video website card was recently launched and is already being used by brands. Take Amazon, which used the video website card to drive traffic towards the Nokia 6 web page in order to increase sales. We also launched in-stream video ads in October to help marketers reach their audience and drive results. With Twitter in-stream video advertising, advertisers can run pre-roll or mid-roll ads at scale against brand-safe videos from hundreds of the world’s top publishers. Motorola and Maruti were among the first lot of advertisers to use the in-stream video ads feature in India. Earlier this year, we had also introduced Twitter’s in-stream video sponsorship, which enables advertisers to access and sponsor content from a single partner to build brand association and reach audiences in multiple ways. We look forward to collaborating with brands to come up with some innovative campaigns.