Twitter takes a swipe at YouTube with in-stream video offering for advertisers

Twitter is rolling out an in-stream video buy for advertisers, meaning brands will be able to buy pre and mid-roll slots against premium content.

The platform announced the new ad unit in a blog post, saying that ads can now be aligned with highlights clips and live-streams from Amplify partners, including TV networks, major sports leagues, publishing houses and magazines, and news outlets.

"Twitter is home to brand-safe video from hundreds of the world’s top publishers," said the company's senior product manager Mo Al Adham, hinting that the platform is looking to pitch itself as an alternative to advertisers in wake of YouTube's recent brand safety woes.

Twitter has said it will reveal more details about the new format and video partners during its session at the Digital Content NewFronts in New York on 1 May. For now, however, it's clear Twitter wants to take a larger slice of the digital video ad market – which according to eMarketer estimates will attract $77.17bn in ad spend by 2020 in the US alone.

The company claims that an analysis of 406 Nielsen Brand Effect studies found that viewers who were subject to video ads on Twtiter were 50% more likely to be aware of the advertiser's brand and had an 18% higher purchase intent than those not exposed to ads.

Twitter's disappointing financial results have been making investors jittery for some time. During a call with investors in January chief executive Jack Dorsey promised action.

"While revenue growth continues to lag audience growth, we are applying the same focused approach that drove audience growth to our revenue product portfolio, focusing on our strengths and the real-time nature of our service. This will take time, but we're moving fast to show results," he said.