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Online Advertising,Online Distribution,Social Media

Twitter Cranks Up Monetization Push

Twitter, one of the world’s most popular internet companies, looks well positioned to prosper in Asia, where revenues are climbing steeply from a low base. Realizing this promise, however, might not be easy.

Here, the mobile-friendly publishing platform is vying for attention from a host of other mobile-centric services such as WeChat from China, Line from Japan and Kakao from Korea, all rolling out international expansion plans of their own.

Nonetheless, Twitter’s Singapore-based VP for Asia-Pacific, Latin America and emerging markets, Shailesh Rao, doesn’t seem overly concerned.

“Every company, every platform, every product has its own journey,” Rao remarked, speaking at an executive breakfast hosted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

“We are not worried about comparison,” he added. “The question is, how do we continue to add value to our users and to our advertisers.”

Rao’s main focus is persuading more people and advertisers to give Twitter a try.

They know the brand, he suggests, but not what it can do for them, describing Twitter as “public, live, conversational and distributive”.

Asian opportunity

Twitter has grown into one of the world’s most popular blogging services by focusing on small messages. It has just raised just over US$1.8 billion in a November IPO, underscoring efforts to monetize its massive user base, including a major slice in Asia.

Over three-quarters of Twitter’s monthly active users live outside the US, according to the IPO filing. However, those users only generated 17% of company revenue in the most recent quarter, framing a massive monetization opportunity.

Rao is banking on education, workshops for key brands and agency partnerships to deliver on that promise, claiming up to 20% higher engagement rates on Twitter than display.

Markets are segmented by internet usage and monetization as well as active Twitter users, highlighting Japan, Australia, India and South Korea as near-term priorities in this part of the world.

The company has also partnered digital sales house Komli Media to drive revenue across Southeast Asia.

The tie-up helps Twitter understand the region, Rao explained. Indonesia is of particular interest, as one of the largest Twitter user bases in the world.


Mobile access

Twitter is also well suited to benefit from the shift to greater internet access via tablets and mobile handsets, recently buying ad startup MoPub to support real-time bidding and geo-targeting for mobile advertising.

More than 66% of Twitter’s sales come from mobile ads, while 75% of monthly users access the service via mobile devices.

Rao also wants to recreate Twitter’s work with traditional media brands to boost the effectiveness of TV campaigns, as well as lift ratings for TV shows.

Studies in the UK and US showed advertisers lowered customer acquisition costs and increased sales when running paid-for tweets alongside TV commercials, according to a recent posting on Twitter’s blog.

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