Twitter ramps up data business as ad revenue stalls
- As its advertising business continues to shrink, Twitter is putting a greater focus on selling data via its enterprise API in order to generate more revenue, according to a report in Recode. Data licensing accounted for around 15% of Twitter's revenue in its most recent quarterly report compared to 11.5% year-over-year. Its Q3 earnings report also included an 8% drop in advertising revenue year-over-year.
- Twitter has announced a reduced-price version of its search tweets API, which includes a searchable database of user posts. Businesses can buy access to 30 days' worth tweets for as low as $149 per month, compared to previously available options like free access to seven days worth of tweets or the entire historical archive of tweets for thousands of dollars per year. Rob Johnson, Twitter's head of data products, told reporters earlier this week that the "middle-of-the-road" version of the search API was only the beginning, with the company planning on launching "many more" less expensive versions of its other data APIs sometime soon, per Recode.
Recode noted that it's heard from various sources over the years that Twitter's data business has been an overlooked opportunity. One example provided was its acquisition of Gnip in 2014. Even though the startup was already licensed to resell Twitter data, Twitter didn't use the opportunity to capitalize on its massive quantity of real-time data.
Opening easier and cheaper access to Twitter data could make the embattled platform more appealing for brands that are looking to glean deeper insights into their customers' behavior and the type of media they engage online. While Twitter has managed to stay afloat despite continued financial and user growth headwinds in the years since it went public, its stature in the ad world has considerably diminished compared to its once-competitor Facebook or a massive engine like Google, with declines in ad revenue in recent quarters signaling the company is in serious trouble.
Now, many brands value Twitter most as a facilitator of customer service and care, but a ramp-up in data-selling meets marketers and agencies' growing need for quantitative analytics and hard numbers to back the massive amounts of money they spend advertising online and on social media apps.
The cheaper API is just one of several tools and features Twitter has introduced of late to steer a turnaround. Last week, it rolled out Promote Mode, a subscription ad service that allows advertisers to send up to 10 promoted tweets a day for $99 per month. The promoted tweets are automated and chosen by Twitter's promotion engine rather than the advertiser, and the service is geared toward businesses with up to 2,000 followers.
Johnson hinting at even more affordable APIs further down the road, taken together with the Promote Mode news, underscores how Twitter is attempting to court smaller marketers as big brands' budgets remain largely focused elsewhere, on Facebook, Google or even Snapchat.
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