Service will shut down the short-lived, short-form video experiment that brands and users never embraced

Twitter has decided to shut down Fleets, its answer to full-screen vertical video apps such as TikTok and Snapchat, after finding that users were just not flocking to the feature that launched less than a year ago.

“We’re winding down Fleets,” Kayvon Beykpour, product lead at Twitter, said in the announcement about the program’s demise on Wednesday. “We weren’t seeing the impact we’d like to see from a big bet, so we’re going to pivot our focus elsewhere. We’re still very focused on building tools that inspire new forms of conversation on Twitter, so you’ll see us taking these learnings into new bets.”

Fleets will officially shutter Aug. 3, Twitter said.

Fleets were meant to give users a way to share videos that would be, well, fleeting, since they would disappear within 24 hours—like video Stories on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. Fleets also gave Twitter a new canvas to explore vertical video ads, which have become a staple of the mobile internet marketing playbook. Just last month, Twitter started testing ads within Fleets with brands including Disney and Wendy’s. Twitter says it discontinued that program, too.

“Our Fleet ads test, which concluded as planned last month, was one of our first explorations of full-screen, vertical format ads,” Twitter said in the announcement. “We’re taking a close look at learnings to assess how these ads perform on Twitter.”

The loss of Fleets is being viewed as a sign that Twitter is acting quickly to experiment and then move on when new products don’t pan out. Twitter has ramped up its testing with new ads formats and media products, introducing other new features like Spaces this year. Twitter has higher hopes for Spaces, which is a real-time, livestreaming audio player akin to the startup app Clubhouse. Twitter says its about-face on Fleets does not reflect on the potential for growth in areas such as Spaces.

Advertisers and major brands never fully embraced Fleets, says Joshua Lowcock, chief digital and global brand safety officer at UM, an agency within IPG Mediabrands. “It feels like the right decision by Twitter,” Lowcock said by email. “From a user and advertiser perspective, we did not see the product get traction or interest.”

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