Twitter is not just a platform for communicating in 280 characters or less. That’s the message that Kay Madati, the social media giant’s global VP and head of content partnerships, has been relaying since he arrived at the company in 2017. The former BET executive has been busy aligning with companies across the globe for video content on the platform, including announcing a raft of deals in Asia with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment and FOX Sports Asia. Madati talks to World Screen about Twitter’s video strategy as the platform seeks to help partners tell compelling stories for a mobile-first audience.
WS: What is Twitter’s overall video strategy?
MADATI: Our content efforts are part of our broader company mission. Our job is to inform our users and the world and serve the conversations that are happening on the platform. I look at what we’re doing with content, particularly video content, as a subset of that, leveraging video to actually tell stories in more compelling ways and working with partners to bring that content to the platform.
We believe that when things happen in the world, they happen first on Twitter. Twitter can be a perfect extension of producers’ reach, audience and monetization propositions. Content is happening on Twitter right now and we’re excited to be partnering with a myriad of producers and media companies around the world. Twitter is an available partner for those efforts.
WS: What are content companies doing right on Twitter, and where do you think they are misunderstanding the platform?
MADATI: The content landscape is changing at an incredible pace. When you look at the last five years, we probably leapfrogged ten years’ worth of transition. There are a lot of partners we’re working with who are thinking around the corner. They are looking at how people are consuming content today and they are structuring partnerships with companies like ours to try to think about how you serve that new user behavior. We’re lucky to be partnered with a lot of people who are experimenting, testing new boundaries, business models and advertising and monetization models, and leveraging our unique value proposition. We’ve only been in this content game for about two and a half years. I still think there is a broad swathe of people who don’t know that Twitter is a viable reach and monetization extension platform.
WS: What opportunities are you seeing in markets like Africa and Asia that are so mobile-centric? Does your strategy for those areas have to be different than your approach to the U.S. or Europe?
MADATI: Fundamentally, because we’re a mobile platform first, the core of that strategy is the same. The value proposition for users, advertisers and content producers alike remains the same. The real opportunity is for Twitter to be building relationships with content providers in those local markets for their local audiences. There are absolutely going to be these global content [alliances with] sports brands like Formula One or the NBA or NFL. But I also believe we should be in market, really figuring out who the entertainment content providers are, who the local sports providers are, who the news providers are, and working with them to build out those partnerships.
WS: You mentioned news and sports. Are those the kinds of content partnerships best suited to Twitter?
MADATI: We definitely see different types of consumption behavior behind different genres, and that makes sense. It’s not a surprise that there is a lot of conversation around sports on the platform. During the World Cup, we saw Twitter light up behind every goal scored. Users are more likely to watch an entire red carpet show in front of the Oscars or BAFTAs. There’s more short-form consumption around news, where they just literally want to get their information, understand it, consume it and then distribute it and share it with their friends.
WS: Is there an ideal length for video content on Twitter?
MADATI: We’ll never be a Netflix-like viewing experience. These lean-back, watch-for-an-hour experiences aren’t happening on the platform. Depending on what the content is and what you’re trying to deliver in terms of messaging, the sweet spot is somewhere between 1 and 5 minutes. People are producing shorter-form content at higher frequency rates. Bloomberg is an example with their TicToc brand. They are publishing an enormous amount of clips on a daily basis, but they are short, easily digestible and easy to distribute.
WS: What gains are you looking to see in Twitter’s video strategy in the next 12 months?
MADATI: We are working robustly in the U.S. I’d love to see us penetrated more heavily with our ex-U.S. partners—I’m looking at relationships in Japan, Korea, AsiaPac [as a whole]. I think we can do a whole lot more in EMEA, specifically with the U.K. Brazil and Mexico offer new opportunities. Those media markets are ripe for this kind of experimentation and innovation.