Twitter Sells the Content Biz on Its Video Strategy at CES

Kay Madati CES
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

When Kay Madati was talking to Twitter COO Anthony Noto about joining the company earlier this year, he made clear what job one had to be were he to take the position.

“We have to talk with clarity and purpose about where we want to be and where we want to go,” recalled Madati, who brought a unique vantage point to what Twitter’s reputation was in the content community in his role as executive VP of digital media at Viacom-owned BET.

Four months into his role as head of content partnerships at Twitter, Madati made good on the goal he set with Noto before taking the job. Twitter used CES this week to assemble content producers and advertisers behind closed doors to deliver the message that they were looking for more partnerships to fuel its nascent video efforts.

To pound the point home, Twitter was joined in Las Vegas by Noto and representatives of many of the companies who are its current partners–Buzzfeed, Bloomberg and Live Nation, to name a few–to showcase the kinds of programming they’ve put on the platform in recent months.

To differentiate themselves from rival social giants like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat who are chasing the same advertising dollars with their own content strategies, Twitter is staking a clearer position of what it wants now that it has 15 months of video executions under its belt.

First and foremost, the company wants to accelerate video efforts around what it does best: live moments that have made Twitter the home for real-time community conversations. To take things further, Madati is eyeing overseas expansions for new and old content like the 24-hour news network, TicToc, launched with Bloomberg on the platform last month. He also has his eye on capitalizing on other verticals including music, fashion and food.

With a team of 130 people across the globe, Madati has emerged the point man for the video initiatives crucial for Twitter to monetize in order to maximize the momentum the company rediscovered in 2017 coming off an even shakier year. “Twitter is hitting on all cylinders and this is a great time for content to be at the center of that conversation,” said Madati.

Madati is stepping in to a reconfigured role once inhabited by Ross Hoffman, who parted ways with Twitter in May. As the company struggled in recent years, a number of media-facing execs have come and gone. Madati is attempting to fill that gap, a role similar to the one he played earlier in his career: Before BET, he was head of entertainment and media global marketing solutions at Facebook. He also spent time on the content side at CNN, where he was instrumental in driving social media adoption at the company.

His focus at Twitter is getting partners interested on customized in-stream video sponsorships like the ones that lured Buzzfeed, which produces morning show “AM to DM” for the platform, and Fox Sports, which just signed on earlier this week for companion content to its coverage of the World Cup (Snapchat struck a similar arrangement). There is also in-stream video ads, a marketplace that lets any publisher on Twitter surround content with advertising.

While video takes up most of Madati’s time, there are other aspects of Twitter he brings to partners disposal, including Moments, DM voting and emoji executions. Even video itself comes in varied forms, from live long-form to on-demand clips.

While Twitter hasn’t released its fourth quarter numbers yet, the company programmed 830 events in the third quarter across over 30 different partners.

Madati hopes for a 100% increase by this time next year. “I come in at a time when we are turning the corner and we have more in-bound inquiries from content producers and media companies who are interested in extending their brand presence on the platform, their reach, and their engagement with consumers.”