Twitter earmarks search as key to bolstering rising revenues

Twitter eyes augmented search for advertisers

Twitter is planning to improve its in-platform search offering for advertisers, admitting that it “could be a whole lot better”.

The company’s founder, Jack Dorsey, said he sees “a lot of potential” in following Google’s lead and bettering brands’ abilities to serve relevant ads and content alongside search results on the platform.

The tech mogul said Twitter’s search function “could be a whole lot better, both from an experience standpoint and certainly from an advertiser perspective as well”.

“You should expect us to pay a lot more attention to this going forward,” he said. “We do believe it's a really important part of the service. And we think there's a lot of ways that we can improve that experience, and something that we're really excited to do.”

However, he added: “First we want to make sure that we are strengthening where people end up after search. And that's really critical because we want to focus on making sure that we're retaining people when they get to those end points.”

Twitter is also eyeing small businesses as a prime area for growth. Ned Segal, the company’s chief financial officer, said there is more work to be done to convert the “millions” of small businesses on Twitter into advertising clients.

“We’ll have to resource that before we can really realize the potential around it,” he said.

Twitter believes its advertiser success stories have tended to revolve around new product launches. Dorsey said Twitter now sees facilitating launches as one of its “core jobs” as an advertising platform.

“We believe we're one of the best places to launch a new product or a new service but more importantly get feedback from the conversation, from the customers,” he declared. However, he did not disclose details on the financial growth of this area of business.

The company announced a 29% year-on-year rise in revenue today (25 October), a total of $758m. Advertising revenue totalled $650m and cost per engagement decreased 14% year-over-year.

This was despite a drop in monthly users, which have fallen by four million since October 2017.

Speaking on an earnings call today, Dorsey put the drop in users down to a company-wide focus on “health” – its crackdown on suspicious account sign-ups, or bots. He heavily focused his opening and closing statements on Twitter’s efforts to improve “conversation” on the platform by providing a more relevant and personalized experience for users.

This contextual layer will eventually improve the relevance of notifications, the timeline, events, accounts and conversations, Dorsey said.

“Typically, Twitter has felt fairly mechanical to a lot of folks,” he explained. “So. if I am interested in basketball, for instance, I have to go and find all the associated accounts with basketball and sometimes they may not even be tweeting about basketball.

“So, we think we can do a much better job by understanding someone's interest, understanding someone's context that they are coming into the service with and then matching them to the best conversations immediately.”

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