Twitter says it wants to be the ‘leader in live video’ as user growth stalls

Twitter says it is now focused on making its live streaming service Periscope a compelling feature for advertisers as its user growth stalled for the first time at the end of 2015.

For the fourth quarter, Twitter attracted 305 million monthly active users – down from 307 million active users in the previous quarter and the first financial quarter in Twitter’s history where the number of monthly users has not grown.   In line with analysts’ expectations, revenues for the quarter were up 48% to $710m while Twitter posted a net loss of $90m compared to a loss of $125m a year prior.   However, for the first quarter of 2016, Twitter has projected revenues between $595m and $610m – a rate well below analysts’ estimates of $627m.   Advertising revenue totalled $641 million, a 48% year-over-year jump, while Twitter said it saw a 153% year increase in ad engagement during the fourth quarter.   In an investors call yesterday, Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey said its live advertising capabilities were now crucial to its future growth and that it is focused on opening up Periscope to brands.   His comments mark a step change for Twitter, last year it said that despite Periscopesigning up over 10 million users it had no plans to monetise the service for advertisers anytime soon.   “We really want to focus on live, because we think it’s the fastest and easiest way to understand the power of Twitter and get into it. And once you see an event unfold on Twitter, there’s a real sense of electricity,” said Dorsey.   “On the Periscope side, we are investing heavily in this technology and the team is working really hard to build a full advertising stack around video to continue to scale that. We had a major release just recently when we announced that anyone who could see anyone could see a Periscope in a tweet and stream live from a tweet. So any broadcaster could open their phone, start broadcasting, and anyone with Twitter who can visualise the tweet could actually see their broadcast live as well.   “The distribution platform and the strategy around live continues to unfold and we will continue to build full stack technology to make sure that scales and increase the density of the experience.”   Yesterday (10 February) Twitter announced it would be rolling out a new timeline feature that allows people to catch up on important tweets that they may have missed while not signed into the service. The controversial changes, which are currently optional, marks the first time Twitter has changed its traditional reverse chronological order.   Earlier this week, it also launched ‘First View’ in the US, which allows brands to buy a slot to take their Promoted Video ads to the top of user’s timeline for a 24-hour period.   And Dorsey said the improvements Twitter has been rolling out, such as allowing brands to launch emoji campaigns and ads through the Live Moments feature, were resonating with advertisers of varying sizes.   He added: “In the most recent quarter, we’ve reached 130,000 advertisers, up 90% year-over-year, which is a great growth rate at that level of scale. A lot of that growth was driven by the SMB channel. And ultimately, we’ve got a strong roadmap ahead to help prove to those SMBs and direct response marketers the efficiency of the ads they are running on Twitter.   “Moving forward, we do think that live streaming video is a great way to explain the service very quickly, and you’re going to see a whole lot more there. We’re going to invest in

being a leader in live streaming video, filming off our lead with Periscope.”   Story first appeared on the Marketing Week website –