Twitter has a new plan to help challenge Facebook and Google - Josh Loe

Twitter has a new plan to help challenge Facebook and Google

Jack Dorsey Twitter
Twitter appears to be readying up an ad network.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Twitter is recruiting publishers to help it move deeper into programmatic advertising and challenge the duopoly.

The company has set up a cryptic landing page asking publishers to sign up for a pilot ad program called Twitter Timeline Ads. Similar to advertising programs like Google’s Display Network and Facebook Audience Network, Twitter wants to serve ads using automated software outside of its flagship website and app within ad units on various publishers’ websites.

Compared to both Google and Facebook, Twitter has been slower to adapt to programmatic advertising and doesn’t have an ad network to handle sophisticated ad buying. Up until now, Twitter’s programmatic efforts have primarily leaned on MoPub, the startup it bought for $350 million in 2013 to help mobile app publishers and advertisers manage their ad inventory.

On the landing page encouraging publishers to sign up for Twitter Timeline Ads, it reads “You already enjoy the power of real-time Tweets on your webpage through embedded Timelines. Now, let it generate revenue for your site.” The program is open by invitation to US publishers. Twitter confirmed that the program is a small test but declined to provide specifics about how it works.

Twitter may find media companies to be receptive in light of Facebook’s recent issues

In the wake of Facebook’s algorithm change and the media industry’s concerns about the duopoly of Facebook and Google controlling the bulk of digital ad budgets, Twitter has warmed up a bit to publishers over the past few months and could be using the recent wave of good publicity to win over media companies – while also building in a new revenue stream.

To date, most of Twitter’s revenue comes from promoted posts within its own properties and the company now says that more than half of its revenue comes from video.

Hundreds of publishers now participate in Twitter’s revenue-sharing video program called Amplify where they make 70% of revenue from ads sold against their content while Twitter keeps 30%.

As of February, Twitter said that it had streamed more than 1,100 live events and added 22 new live-streaming shows. During its NewFronts presentation a few weeks ago, Twitter promised advertisers that it will crank out 30-some content deals this year with media companies like Viacom, NBCUniversal and ESPN. According to Twitter, revenues paid out to publishers increased 60% in 2017.

While Twitter’s past two earnings have been positive, the company’s revenue is far from the likes of Facebook and Google. Thus opening up a programmatic spigot could lead to larger ad deals from media buyers. To put the gap in revenue in context, Twitter r eported $655 million during its second-quarter earnings while Facebook reported $11.97 billion in revenue in its second-quarter earnings.

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