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Twitter poaches YouTube executive in new push for video ads

Twitter poaches YouTube executive in new push for video ads

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Twitter has hired former YouTube executive Baljeet Singh as a product director in its revenue organization, where he will work to improve the amount and quality of video on the service while also helping the company sell ads against it. Singh, who starts today, previously spent five and a half years at Google and YouTube, where among other projects he developed the skippable pre-roll advertisements that have been imitated around the web. "There's all this tremendous conversation that happens around TV content and online content — and all that conversation is happening on Twitter," said Singh, who left Google last month, in an interview with The Verge.

Singh's new job has three parts: making it easier for Twitter users to find and watch videos, a job that will include refining its player software; adding more video to Twitter, by forging partnerships with broadcasters and other creators; and selling more ads against those videos, using Twitter's Amplify program for promoting tweets that include embedded videos. He will work on product, and report to Kevin Weil, Twitter's vice president of product for revenue.

A focus on video is a bid to solve two problems at once

The move comes as Twitter works to become profitable after it posted a loss in its first quarter as a public company. The company is also struggling to increase its user base, leading it to embrace a continuous redesign of its core product. An intensified focus on video is a bid to solve both problems at once: video is a proven winner when it comes to attracting eyeballs, and video advertising can be highly lucrative. If Singh succeeds, he could help push Twitter towards profits while also helping them attract the more casual users that historically have eluded them.

Singh wouldn't say much about his plans for video or video advertising at Twitter — "I'll probably reserve some judgment," he says. But YouTube is reportedly a revenue juggernaut, largely because of the way it has been able to attract advertisers to the motley mix of content hosted on its servers. For Twitter to become probable, it has to pull off the same trick.