Sunday, September 25

Twitter’s Dick Costolo: ‘There Are Very Few Other Companies With This Kind Of Reach’

Twitter isn’t pleasing Wall Street these days.

Advertisers? That’s another story, if you believe Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. In the conference call with investors Tuesday after the release of the company’s Q1 earnings report — that beat revenue expectations but didn’t wow stock traders hoping for faster growth in monthly active users — Costolo presented the case.

Costolo said Twitter is delivering the two things marketers care about most: scale and engagement. The Twitter-owned MoPub ad network reaches more than 1 billion iOS and Android users create native app ads and Costolo said that Twitter will enhance it with a second-quarter launch of a system that will allow advertisers to bid across the  full inventory using a single interface.

“To be very clear,” he said, “there are very few other companies with this kind of reach and we see a strategic opportunity here to assist marketers in making a shift from desktop to mobile.”

Some other key points from the call:

Live Events

Both Costolo emphasized Twitter’s live-event advantage, often returning to the 3 billion tweets about the Oscar telecast during the two days after the event. “That kind of reach and impact is why we now have TV measurement and ratings partnerships in 11 countries,” Costolo said. “And it’s what’s enabled us to build a partnership with Billboard for the first real-time chart to highlight the music of the moment.”

“The Emperor Has No Clothes”?

Costolo reacted strongly to a question about NBCUniversal’s head of research Alan Wurtzel’s claim that Twitter doesn’t drive TV ratings, given the network’s experience with the Winter Olympics. Said Wurtzel to the Financial Times: “I am saying the emperor wears no clothes.”

Costolo pointed to research that says otherwise and said Twitter’s TV strategy is based on data that shows a complementary relationship between TV and the social network. Costolo’s evidence:

  • study by Fox, the Advertising Council and Twitter, showing that 92% of users have taken immediate action — either tuning into a program or searching for it — after seeing a tweet about the show.
  • Symphony Advanced media study that said use of Twitter while watching TV decreases the likelihood an audience member will change the channel.
  • Nielsen study that found a causal relationship between Twitter activity and tune-in. The only three things that correlated with TV ratings in the study, Costolo said, were prior seasons’ ratings for the show, ad spend for the show, and Twitter activity.

“All of that tells us,” Costolo said, “that in addition to the growing number of content providers and broadcasters participating in our amplify program that our Twitter TV strategy is on the right track.”

Ad Engagement & Mobile Ad Revenue

CFO Mike Gupta said engagement on ads is up almost 700% year-over-year and 28% percent since last quarter. He said Twitter will continue to prioritize quality ads in user timelines. Mobile ad revenue, he said, is about 80% of the total, up from about 60% last year.