Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey believes its focus on live content will ensure the company can regain user and revenue growth.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell at Dmexco today (15 September), Dorsey said his number one focus is on “live and real time”.
“No other service can offer breaking news as fast as we can and from the source,” explained Dorsey.
He was speaking as Twitter launches its first TV apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Microsoft’s Xbox One games console. These will enable users to watch TV and view Twitter at the same time, with live content including 10 Thursday night NFL games.
Dorsey said the apps will feel “extremely live” and make it possible to bring conversations on Twitter “right to screen and event watching”.
“This is how you should be able to watch these events. Tweets make it more interesting, insightful and funny,” he said. “We are so excited because for 10 years as a service we have seen people tweet about TV screens. Now people can watch TV in the Twitter app and tweet about it right there.”
Yet Dorsey admitted there are still areas where Twitter needs to improve and that the site had struggled recently to identify what its core function should be. He also reiterated its focus on making the site simpler to use.
“We have experienced a series of challenges. For a long time Twitter saw hundreds of use cases and never really saw which was important to strengthen.”
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter
“We are taking a much more disciplined approach and starting to see positive results in usage. There is causation in the changes we are making to the product and people using it,” he explained. “[The challenge] is to have people actually wanting to download the app and personalise their own news stream and experience and get into the conversation. And we are working to provide more reasons to do just that.”
Sorrell also questioned Dorsey over why monetising has been “so much of a struggle” for Twitter. He highlighted that WPP invested £150m in 2014 on Twitter on behalf of its clients and this year that number would rise to £350m, indicating that brands have a “significant degree of confidence in Twitter”, yet Twitter does not seem to be able to “monetise successfully”.
Dorsey said part of the reason for this is because Twitter has been an innovator in mobile ad formats and it has taken a while for advertisers to work out how and where they should be using Twitter and how to measure ROI.
He also admitted that Twitter has not invested enough in tackling abuse but that safety is now one of its top priorities and that he is “confident” Twitter has the road map and tools to minimise harassment.
“We have seen recently a flare up in targeted abuse and harrassment. We knew it was important but we didn’t put enough engineering and product resource behind it. We want to address this comprehensively,” he added.
Why CEOs should join Twitter
Sorrell admitted he is not on Twitter but promised that if Dorsey, who was speaking via videolink, came to Dmexco next year he would join. However, Sorrell also requested some advice on how CEOs and leaders should be using the platform.
In response, Dorsey said CEOs should look to the example of Tesla founder Elon Musk. “He is constantly on Twitter talking about what they are doing and how he is feeling about it. He loves what he does, he’s a scientist and he geeks out on the platform.”
He added: “When a leader, CEO or someone in a leadership position takes to the platform they have the opportunity to humanise their organisation, make it feel smaller and relatable to people.”