Publishers: Why are Facebook and Twitter hogging mobile video?

Nikao Yang is the senior vice president of global marketing at Opera Mediaworks

“Scrolling the feed” is the new flicking through TV channels with a remote. It’s the alternative to flipping the pages in a magazine. It’s even replacing clicks, searches and active navigation for many people – think of the feed as the new standard for sharing digital content. It’s even more of a no-brainer with mobile apps – scrolling with a thumb or forefinger is intuitive. Yet in the midst of this massive push to feed-style content, the ability to make money from it is where many publishers fall flat.

Why is that?

It’s simple. In-app news feeds are great for users – but there’s little airtime and attention left for the display ads that are typically used to monetize mobile content. And that’s where native mobile video comes in.

If you’ve used the Facebook or Twitter apps lately, you’ll notice a lot more video. Video is more engaging, so that’s a no-brainer. But both companies have gone a step further than just adding more video content – they’ve made it almost impossible to not see all that video – by having the clips start playing the moment a user scrolls past them. So instead of forcing users to decide whether to click or read, they auto-play, piquing user interest in the video without interrupting them and delivering an instant benefit to advertisers.

That benefit translates to an insane increase in mobile revenue, because advertisers will pay more for sight, sound and motion over static ads any day.

That’s great for Facebook and Twitter – but what about the thousands of other publishers that don’t have the same time, money or infrastructure to build their own auto-play, in-feed monetization platforms? And what about the publishers that say, “we don’t have a lot of video content,” or “we’re not a video-centric company, anyway?

Democratizing mobile video, one publisher at a time

The promise of native mobile video cannot and should not be confined to the two dominant social platforms. Premium publishers that provide the bulk of the content people enjoy on mobile – from recipes and fashion feeds, to news and even games – can’t afford to miss out on the prospect of earning five, six, or even 10 times more per impression.

Thankfully, they don’t have to. There are a variety of in-feed video products emerging that give publishers like the New York Daily News, PEOPLE/Time, Inc. and others the ability to earn more revenue for their app content, and even run fewer ads while doing it. And that’s without having to invest in creating significant amounts of mobile video content in the first place.

Beyond just new ad units, some companies are even making native video ad technology available via a software-as-a-service model – not only selling native mobile video ads on a publisher’s behalf – but allowing them sell those native video ads directly themselves. We think this is huge, because it empowers publishers to add video ads to their news feeds on their own terms.

Most importantly, as more publishers gain access to the monetization tactics that are now fueling the majority of revenue for giants like Facebook and Twitter, we’re likely to see the boundaries of great mobile video storytelling get pushed farther than ever. Before long, the ability to watch great video content instantly in an app – whether it’s from a publisher or a brand – may barely seem fast enough.

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