SnappyTV’s position as both a Twitter Amplify partner and a member of Facebook’s Public Content Solutions Program means video on the SnappyTV platform can be accessed natively. For instance, a video loaded onto Twitter will play within Twitter, essentially like a Vine video, instead of directing the user to a different site.
While this presents tremendous opportunity, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, as video viewed through social media is in its infancy.
Baird acknowledges that even a company as devoted to video as Fox Sports is still figuring things out. Even the social networks through which it would distribute videos still haven't solidified their initiatives. Facebook and Twitter, for instance, have different strategies around video. Both want to improve the video playback experience, but their motives differ.
“Twitter, with their Amplify partnership, is really focused on monetizing the premium content,” Folgner said. “Facebook is not yet focused on monetizing premium content. Facebook is really trying to drive engagement.”
Baird too has noticed differences, particularly in technological tools each social network offers: “It’s kind of hard right now to measure on Twitter,” he said, adding that he anticipates Twitter introducing an analytics engine designed to show video views. “In the past, that has been an issue just in terms of Facebook’s video technology, but with their new player, that’s not an issue.”
These observations underscore the Wild West nature of social video right now. SnappyTV has monetization products in that it can provide pre-roll ads and branded skins, which Fox Sports has used, but Baird acknowledges that the media company is still working out some key issues. For instance, while Fox Sports has placed pre-roll ads in front of video clip highlights, these were done directly through a sales rep and were part of deals where Fox Sports was obligated to deliver a certain amount of Tweets.
“Wherever we can make money, we want to,” Baird said. “But with these new products rolling out, our hope is there will be more opportunities to put together packages unique to social as opposed to value-adds. In the future, the goal is to make social a platform for advertising that stands on its own.”
Whether or not social video becomes its own ad package for media sellers like Fox Sports, digital video needs to supplement Fox Sports’ linear TV programming. For Baird, it’s a question of whether digital video can drive ratings in real-time. “I think the bigger question is understanding how social truly drives ratings,” he said. “There’s a lot of literature out there and products out there doing this but they haven’t cracked the nut.”