Twitter’s revenue growth hit its lowest level since 2013 last quarter, raising questions over its ability to attract advertisers to the platform. Though revenue was up 20% year-on-year to $602m, that was the social media platform’s lowest revenue growth since 2013 when Twitter went public. In the same quarter in 2015, Twitter saw a 61% rise in revenue.
The results came in below consensus estimates of $607m (£463m) with Twitter saying in a letter to shareholders it has seen “less overall advertiser demand than expected.”
Speaking on a conference call yesterday (26 July), Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO said: “There is increased competition for social marketing budgets, which requires us to continuously raise the quality bar on the advertising solutions we bring to market.”
The company said it will react with a three-fold strategy aimed at re-accelerating its ads business. This will include:
1. Building a rich canvas for marketers
2. Driving increased ROI with improved measurement, bidding and relevance
3. Increasing scale by leveraging Twitter’s unique total audience.
The company aims to build a rich canvas for marketers through its video opportunities, with Anheuser-Busch InBev, Nestlé, Sony Pictures, and Verizon all ready to use its platform. It says it will take time for marketers to understand the impact of video ads on mobile and in order to get brands to unlock budgets it will also be launching additional features and functionality. These will include accurate audience verification, reserved buying, and reach and frequency planning and purchasing.
Twitter has already made attempts this year to lure in advertisers as it rolled out its First View ads for UK brands back in April in a bid to drive sales. The change meant that UK brands can pay to ensure video content takes prime position on the timelines of Twitter users.
Twitter has also tried to make it easier for marketers rolling out campaigns with a new dashboard, and the company’s CMO Leslie Berland said Twitter wants to challenge the idea that members are “supposed to tweet everyday” and instead show how Twitter is a platform for everyday news, events and interests, to make its audience more appealing to marketers.
However, so far its moves have not been enough to draw in enough advertisers. According to eMarketer, Twitter is expected to capture just 7.9% share of worldwide social network ad spend in 2016, compared to Facebook’s 67.9% share.
“Despite Twitter’s offering becoming ‘more interesting’ for brands, these developments have been largely overshadowed by what competitors like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have rolled out. Twitter’s latest initiatives feel like too little, too late,” said Samantha Merlivat, an analyst at Forrester Research.
Merlivat said the results don’t necessarily mean Twitter will become irrelevant but that it “definitely lacks some oomph in comparison to Instagram or Snapchat”, companies which are increasingly attracting social ad spend at the expense of Twitter.
She believes that Twitter will need to do more to differentiate but also do a better job at explaining its offering and capabilities to advertisers. “It needs to find better ways to build products around how and why consumers use Twitter, in a way that supports or enhances the user’s experience,” she said.
“One of the problems the company has is that it is being compared to companies like Facebook, and expected to achieve similar growth.”