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Twitter recently announced the launch of new video capabilities in its mobile apps. The service will allow users to capture and share 30-second video clips directly from their smartphones. Twitter faces real challenges catching up and competing with Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, all of which have well-established and monetized video services.

Twitter enters the video market. Again.

Despite already having a short-form social video app, Vine, Twitter has decided this week to launch a second assault on the mobile video market by integrating video directly into its mobile apps. The ability to capture and share 30-second video clips directly into the timelines marks Twitter’s effort to counteract the increasing strength of Facebook and Instagram in the video space. The scale of Twitter’s challenge is put into context somewhat by the recent announcements that the number of video impressions on Facebook has surpassed YouTube. Twitter’s service shares some characteristics with Vine, such as the “hold to capture” interface. However, moves beyond it to allow longer-duration videos and the ability to select and upload clips from videos already taken using the camera are currently only available in iOS.

As yet, Twitter hasn’t announced any ad products relating to the video service but, given the premium pricing of most mobile video, ads it’s likely that the longer-term play for the video product is to monetize it in the same way Twitter has done with promoted tweets, where advertisers pay a premium to extend the reach of their content. Bringing a digital video advertising product with a broad reach to the market should help Twitter compete more directly with Facebook’s recently launched Premium Video Ads product. But where Twitter is likely to struggle in comparison with Facebook and YouTube is in its lack of a wider advertising ecosystem. This issue isn’t limited to video, it is a challenge Twitter faces across its product line.

This new launch follows on from Twitter making a number of attempts to integrate Twitter activity with TV viewing more closely. Twitter has been able to take the position of a partner to live TV and event broadcasting in recent years, although with little ability to monetize that capability beyond promoted tweets. There have also been limited partnerships with US broadcasters such as the “See It” button launched in 2013 with NBCUniversal that failed to take hold. It will be interesting to see how and if broadcasters and content providers make use of the new product’s functionality to increase engagement with their content, and how Twitter itself supports development of the video product to meet the evolving needs of broadcasters, publishers, and content producers. Twitter’s foray into video needs to be part of a coherent strategy that plays to the real-time strengths of the platform and enables it to differentiate its video offering from that of Facebook and YouTube.


Further reading

Why Facebook’s Video Advertising Strategy Will Challenge TV, ME0002-000536 (August 2014)

Twitter steps into the payments value chain, TE0003-000794 (September 2014)

Ratings agencies face a serious challenge if they are to usefully interpret Twitter metrics, ME0003-000481 (September 2014)


James McDavid, Senior Analyst, Digital Media

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