Twitter Makes It Easier for Brands to Run Amplify Ads

Auto Amplify Is the Programmatic Version of Twitter's Amplify Program

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Credit: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

Twitter is tweaking its Amplify program to make it easier and quicker for brands to run ads against videos certain media companies post to the social network.

As first reported by Forbes, Thursday Twitter announced a program called Auto Amplify that makes it so brands don't have to wait on sales reps to run an Amplify campaign. The program is a new spin on Twitter's two-year-old Amplify program that has enabled TV networks and other media companies to sell pre-roll ads against video clips uploaded to Twitter as promoted tweets.

Here's how Auto Amplify works: A brand surveys Twitter's library of Amplify videos and selects the one it would like to advertise against. The brand then pays Twitter to run that video as a promoted tweet with a pre-roll ad playing before the video.

But brands can't pick any Amplify video from the library. They need to have already signed a deal with an Amplify publisher to use Auto Amplify and even then can only use Auto Amplify for videos from publishers with which it has deals. That curtails the scope of the news to big brands and major media companies, but it could still help Twitter get a bigger cut of the $7.77 billion that eMarketer expects U.S. advertisers to spend on digital video ads this year because Auto Amplify addresses issues advertisers had with Amplify.

Amplify campaigns have "just been a huge pain in the ass to activate," said Dentsu Aegis Network's head of social Travis Freeman in an email. That has resulted in a couple of the agency group's clients trying Amplify campaigns once but never following up with a second effort "because of all the back and forth with Twitter then the publisher, etc.," Mr. Freeman said.

Auto Amplify is effectively the programmatic version of Twitter's Amplify program and comes with the benefits commonly associated with automated advertising. Instead of calling a Twitter sales rep to run a campaign, a brand can just open up a computer program and run the campaign itself. That means an advertiser can see that a video has started trending and immediately use Auto Amplify to run that clip as a promoted tweet with the advertiser's pre-roll ad attached.

"What this does is allows brands to easily be a part of conversations they may have not planned for as well. That's massive in my mind as no one can compete with Twitter as we look at live/real-time events," Mr. Freeman said.

Twitter's Auto Amplify program could be an even bigger deal if it becomes Twitter's version of YouTube's partner program, in which a content creator can agree to let Google's ad sales staff sell ads against the creator's videos in exchange for a cut of the ad revenue. Twitter could set up a similar program by letting content creators apply to make their videos available through Amplify.

If Twitter were to eventually open up Amplify in that manner, it could have one big advantage over YouTube. On YouTube the only value a creator gets from the advertiser is money. On Twitter, the creator gets money and a wider audience for his or her video. By running the pre-roll-appended videos as promoted tweets, the brand is paying to get the content creator's video in front of more people.

If Twitter is able to use Auto Amplify to show content creators that it can drive a lot of views and money for their videos, that could help the company as it tries to compete with YouTube, Facebook and others for creators' content. As Facebook has shown over the past year, view counts are a very important metric to creators and can lead companies like BuzzFeed to invest in their Facebook channels as much as their YouTube channels, even if they can't yet make money from those Facebook channels. They may be willing to invest more if in return they get not only views but dollars, as Twitter's Auto Amplify would stand to offer. But for now Amplify remains limited to big brands and media companies.

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