Timing Is Everything: Twitter Unveils First View Ads, Videos At The Top Of Your Timeline

Twitter has been in the spotlight for the past several days over allegedly imminent (longstanding) plans to change the order of Tweets in your timeline. But while its CEO has confirmed there are no such plans for this week, Twitter is adding a new product in its advertising business that does underscore the fact that on Twitter, timing does count for a lot.

First_viewgraphic_4Today Twitter is unveiling a new video ad unit called First View. Advertisers opting for a First View position will essentially jump to the front of the queue in Twitter’s ad network, getting the top ad spot the first time a person opens Twitter, for a period of 24 hours.

At launch, First View will be video only — pushing Twitter’s drive to expand its offerings in rich media. A spokesperson says Twitter is considering expanding to other Tweet types int he future.

An example of how it looks is here to the right:

The news comes at a critical time for Twitter.

The company is due to announce its Q4 and full-year earnings on Wednesday, February 10. And just yesterday its stock dipped to below $15/share for the first time — a sign of how some investors continue to question whether the company will be able to demonstrate that its user base is increasing rather than stagnating, and that its advertising-based business model is growing along with that.

Adding in more premium ad units is one way for the company to increase its revenues per user, which could also help to offset the smaller margin play based around simpler ads for a larger audience.

First View ads (Promoted Tweets) will be rolled out initially in the U.S. and select U.S.-managed clients, across Twitter’s mobile and desktop apps and Twitter.com, with a global roll out planned for the near future. Mobile web and third-party apps are not supported at this time, says the spokesperson.

(And in case you were wondering, the spokesperson didn’t respond to a question I had about whether verified accounts will see First View ads. As you might recall, some verified accounts users have not had ads served to them in a while.)

Neither the blog post about First View from Deepak Rao, nor the spokesperson, revealed anything about how First View is being priced compared to other Promoted Tweet ad units.

But the fact that First View gives advertisers a coveted position at the top of the feed — putting to rest the worry that some people just don’t scroll that much on Twitter — and that it’s focused around premium video, both point to Twitter’s interest in developing more higher-priced tiers around its main line of revenue generation. Other ad units launched recently that support this strategy include “conversational” ad units and the expansion of Twitter’s Amplify video program.

So who will be a typical advertiser using the new First View unit? With the fact that it’s centered around video, you’ll be very unsurprised to hear that one target market is the entertainment industry:

“Word of mouth is more important than it has ever been in movie marketing.  And there is no better word of mouth social platform than Twitter. Twitter‘s First View is a great opportunity to widely distribute our trailer for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates while generating buzz and social conversation. We are able to hit a broad movie-going audience with great video in a way that not just garners views, but actually creates social momentum,” said Marc Weinstock, president of marketing at 20th Century Fox in a statement.