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Could Twitter video ads be a better deal for marketers than Facebook?

As more brands expand their social media marketing budgets, the battle for ad dollars between the platforms is heating up.

Yesterday Twitter announced that it was testing its own video ads, becoming the second social media platform to do so after Facebook.

In a blog post, Twitter senior product manager for TV and video David Regan said the platform was designed to make it easy for brands to upload video content and track its reach and effectiveness.

Here’s what the video ads will look like:

Like Facebook’s video ads, a viewer has to click on the video thumbnail in order to play the video. The video takes up the entire screen (when played on mobile.) However, the videos won’t play automatically without sound in users’ feeds like they do on Facebook.

Also unlike Facebook, Twitter will be selling its ads on a cost-per-view basis. That’s a considerably cheaper proposition compared to Facebook, which is reportedly looking for the kind of ad rates you see for television. For social media marketers not willing to spend that kind of money on a digital channel, Twitter could be an effective alternative. It provides much of the same targeting tools, enabling brands to reach customers locally and through mobile. In addition, its audiences tend to be more engaged in real-time events, giving advertisers a lot of opportunity to create video and wait for the right spikes in interest to start promoting them.

While Facebook has a far bigger audience, Twitter could also win out by specializing in very specific types of ads, namely those promoting TV shows and movies. Twitter has worked hard on positioning itself as the social media platform to discuss real-time conversations around television. For TV networks who want to promote their shows, a video ad is a highly effective way to build buzz around their content. They could also target people who are tweeting about those shows, getting the maximum engagement from a devoted user base.

Finally, the video ads could also enhance the look of Twitter’s mostly-text based timelines. The platform has already made plenty of efforts to break up the monotony of text by showing images and Vines in users’ feeds. The video ads (at least the good ones) could be the type of visually attractive media that attracts newer users of the platform who have a hard time “getting” how the platform works.

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