12seconds Tries To Push Video Ads For Twitter

imageAdd a new online video unit to the ranks of pre-rolls, post-rolls and overlays: the 12-second Twitter spot. Video-sharing site 12seconds has launched the “12omercial,” a tweetable, embeddable sponsored video ad, with electronics giant *LG* and software startup Xobni as its first paid advertisers. The ads come with built-in analytics, link back to a landing page, and run in a special branded player on the 12seconds site.

Founded in early 2008, Santa Cruz, Calif.-based 12seconds is still a very small startup, with four employees and no capital raised. But co-founder Sol Lipman said the video-sharing service averages about 400,000 unique monthly visitors (the company “doesn’t think as much” about registered users), and brands like Xbox Live, Starbucks and Kodak have already created clips of their own (not as part of the 12omercial launch) to reach their target audiences. Lipman talked to paidContent about the thinking behind the 12omercials, how an advertiser would determine the ROI of such a short snippet of video, and whether the startup planned to raise funding any time soon.

So, really — what’s the point of a 12-second video clip? And how can these commercials be valuable to advertisers?

When most people get a YouTube link, the first thing they do is check how long it is; people don’t always have time to watch a long clip. 12seconds videos were meant to be convenient and disposable; when someone sees a “tiny12” link in their tweet stream, they know it’s just a snippet, like a quick movie review. For brands, 12omercials work because there’s no barrier to creating them. You don’t need a production team, or a huge budget, you just need a camera and a Twitter or Facebook account.

How does a brand gauge the success of a 12omercial? How do you buy these ads? Right now they’re paying a flat fee up front; we think the key metrics will be video views and the number of retweets. We’ve built analytics into the player, so they can see how many “impressions” their clip got, whether the views came from Twitter or another network, how many followers the person has, with data that tracks back for at least 30 days.

How did you get connected to LG? Their agency Publicis Modem wanted to do something with video on Twitter, so they contacted us. Twitter is fantastic, but video add a whole different level of engagement. Media buyers are going to look at some things that are safe bets and some ideas that are way out there; thankfully the team at Publicis Modem was looking for something that was a little risky.

So what about funding? We were going to try to raise when we launched, but then realized that VCs thought we were crazy. We know we needed to show that we could create revenue before we raised money — which we have. But we have some big business development deals in the works that necessitate more infrastructure, so we’re probably going to do a raise in the next few months.