Nevertheless, Twitter’s revenue for the third quarter slightly exceeded the company’s own expectations. It totaled $616 million for the three-month period from July to September, up 8.2 percent compared to revenue of $569 million during the third quarter of last year.
As a result, the company’s net loss declined to $102.9 million during the third quarter compared to $131.7 million the year prior.
The company’s revenue growth was driven in part by a 6 percent increase in advertising revenue, which continues to make up the bulk of its sales. The company reported that that total ad engagements were up a sizable 91 percent compared to a year ago, but that the cost per each engagement was down 44 percent in that time. That means more people interacted with ads on Twitter, but the company made less money each time compared to a year ago.
Still, Twitter executives made it clear that mobile video advertising would be key to the company’s strategy moving forward. For the second quarter in a row, video advertising was the largest and fastest-growing revenue category. That’s due in part to Twitter’s strong push into higher-end video that is more lucrative but also more expensive than user-generated content.
CEO Jack Dorsey said during the call that Twitter intends to be “the most open, comprehensive news network on the planet” and so far its programming spans business, sports and politics. In April, the platform inked a deal with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday night football games globally this season. It has also partnered with Bloomberg and Cheddar to offer financial news, and most recently live streamed the three presidential debates. Those efforts have led to increased user activity, the company said Thursday.
Dorsey said that Twitter users have always taken to the platform to share their opinions on the television and Internet content they consume. Increasingly, Twitter wants to remove that “friction” by both serving up the content and providing users with a forum to sound off. To that end, the platform plans to offer additional ways for its users to congregate based on specific topics and shared interests.
Speculation has swirled for weeks about Twitter’s back-and-forth flirtations with potential acquirers. Dorsey deflected that speculation at the very start of a call with analysts on Thursday, simply stating that the board of directors remains committed to improving shareholder value and declining to comment further on the topic.
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff confirmed in interviews with the Financial Times and CNBC earlier this month that his company had backed out of takeover talks due to shareholder concerns that Twitter was a bad fit. Google and Disney were also rumored to be among prospective bidders, but several media outlets have since reported they also declined. The tech blog Betaville reported late Tuesday that Disney and Twitter were actually still in acquisition talks and had settled on a purchase price, though no other media outlets appeared to corroborate the news.
But as even as the company’s future is hazy, Twitter has been pervasive during the presidential election. That’s not just because the platform has a prolific user in Republican nominee Donald Trump, whose late-night musings and pointed language on Twitter have grabbed headlines all cycle.
Twitter reported Thursday that it pulled in an average 3.3 million unique viewers during its livestream of the second and third debates. The first debate had about a third fewer viewers, the company said. During all three debates, Twitter hit record levels of daily active users in the U.S.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted this summer found roughly 24 percent of adults turned to social media posts from Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for messages from the candidates, a much larger percentage than viewed their campaign websites or opened their emails.
Twitter’s stock closed on Thursday at $17.40 per share, up 0.64 percent compared to the day before.
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