Meet SnappyTV, the startup behind Twitter’s March Madness video strategy

When you log on to Twitter during March Madness starting this week, you probably won’t be thinking much beyond the state of your bracket. But if you happen to notice video replays showing up in your feed, they’ll be coming from the technology platform built by SnappyTV, the little startup at the heart of Twitter’s video advertising strategy during one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
We’ve heard a good deal over the past year or so about Twitter building up advertising opportunities as well as multimedia content, and now it’s all coming together during March Madness. SnappyTV will bridge the tech gap between Twitter and Turner Broadcasting to create new opportunities for advertising revenue around the second screen television experience, providing short highlight videos throughout the entire basketball tournament.
march madness championship artTwitter is clearly interested in making money from social TV, as it demonstrated with the Bluefin Labs acquisition, so this partnership is a window into what that concept could look like.
We covered the news about the partnership on Monday that was first reported by USA Today, but today I spoke further with SnappyTV CEO Mike Folgner about the technology involved in his platform and how it presents opportunities for both the basketball fans and Twitter. Folgner built one of the first in-browser video editors with Jumpcut in 2006 before the company was acquired by Yahoo, where Folgner went to become general manager for video.
The partnership this year will allow editors at Turner TO use SnappyTV’s video-editing platform to put together short, 15-second highlight videos throughout the tournament. Editors with Turner will use both human judgement and an algorithm from SnappyTV that tracks the most-discussed moments on social media to pick the best moments from the games, and less than a minute later, can send out an video with the highlight for people to view and (hopefully) retweet.
“Let’s say something happens, like there’s a great play, and 20 seconds later, there’s a tweet from the March Madness account with the play. And people can watch it almost instantly and retweet it,” Folgner said. “You just get this really cool second screen experience around Twitter and the game.”
This isn’t the first year that SnappyTV and Turner have partnered to provide March Madness clips — they actually provided the same function for last year’s tournament. But this is the first year that the videos will be able to take advantage of Twitter cards, which allow you to expand tweets without leaving the main Twitter stream to view content. (Last year the videos were just tweeted out as URLs.) And this is the first year that Twitter has found advertisers specifically for those video — AT&T and Coke Zero will be sponsoring them.
“The real difference with this year is now these advertisers who are buying these key TV shows, now they have the opportunity to buy the social conversation around the shows as well. And there really hasn’t been that connection before,” Folgner said. “People watch TV and talk about it on Twitter. So by sending the video out, you connect the brand advertisement on television with the branded content on Twitter.”
Users watching from the March Madness app (available mainly to existing cable customers) will be able to see the social conversation around the games, as well as the highlight videos they’ll be able to replay and tweet out. While the number of videos per game will vary, SnappyTV estimated that it would be about 10 clips per game on the high end. Which, at more than 60 games, is a fair number of video tweets. So you might want to follow the @marchmadness account at your own Twitter discretion.
It will be interesting to watch how the partnership plays out for this year’s tournament — and if it goes well, just how quickly SnappyTV gets acquired before the next one rolls around.