All Eyes On Jack Dorsey As User Growth Lags – But Twitter Has A Plan For Advertisers

TwitterQ32015Twitter’s stock took a tumble after trading closed on Tuesday. The reason, as ever? Stalled monthly active users (MAUs).

Total MAU growth in Q3 grew a scant 11% year over year to 320 million, an increase of just 4 million users over last quarter. Wall Street was not impressed. Analysts had been expecting at least 324 million MAUs in Q3.

But now-permanent CEO Jack Dorsey was quick to point out that Twitter also has a logged-out audience of more than 500 million people. Add that together with the active users and Twitter has a potential audience of more than 800 million people.

Twitter is actively running tests around monetizing its logged-off users. Newly minted chief operating officer (and former CRO) Adam Bain and CFO Anthony Noto were not forthcoming with details on what those tests entail.

Although active MAUs were a bit of a downer, Twitter did manage to beat its financial guidance, with revenue clocking in at $569 million – a 58% increase over last year. Analyst estimates had pegged Twitter’s revenue at $559.6 million. Ad revenue was also up 60% YoY at $513 million.

Ever since Dorsey retook the reins of the company he co-founded, Twitter has been working to make its platform more attractive to brands – and to users.

Twitter has three areas of focus, Dorsey noted in the company’s Q3 earnings release, including “more disciplined execution, simplifying our services and better communicating the value of our platform.”

It’s pretty much the same language Dorsey used last quarter when he readily acknowledged that although “people know the power of Twitter, it’s just not clear why they should harness it themselves.”

The recent launch of Moments – Twitter’s curated tab designed to showcase and highlight the most relevant content on Twitter at any given moment – is a big part of that push on the user side.

On the advertiser side, Twitter is focused on driving ROI, improving measurement, bidding and ad relevance and building what Bain called a “rich canvas” for marketers.

By rich canvas, Bain was referring to autoplay video, which launched on Twitter across all devices in the middle of Q3. According to Bain, marketers have seen a 7X increase in video completion since autoplay hit the platform.

Twitter is also planning to open up new video-focused inventory with the launch of Promoted Moments. A few advertisers, including MGM Warner Bros., are running pilots in the US.

In other news, Twitter is finally kickstarting its previously announced ad measurement and buying partnership with Google DoubleClick. Limited pilots will run throughout Q4 and into Q1 2016.

“Many third-party measurement systems were built in the desktop era and haven’t measured mobile in-app activity,” Bain said, noting that the need to measure mobile was one of the main motivators behind the deal. “Almost 90% of our revenue comes from mobile.”

Twitter is also attempting to measure the impact of non-traditional engagement actions, like retweets and follows, on downstream conversions. “Marketers know there is a link,” Bain said – they just need to see the proof.

Although Twitter crossed over the 100,000 active advertiser mark in Q3, it’s devising a plan to boost that number significantly, and it’s got small and medium-sized businesses in the crosshairs.

There are around 9 million SMBs using Twitter to tweet but do not to spend. Twitter is looking to aggressively court those businesses to change them into active advertisers.

In that process, it will also be a “key priority to provide [SMBs] with more customized tools and services,” Bain said.

It’s hard not to ponder how Square would fit into that picture.

 

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