Twitter executives said Thursday that the company is focused on making more money from video advertising, its largest and fastest growing revenue segment. That means users will see the social network expand its offerings of both regularly scheduled programming and programming tied to major events.
The company already has a deal with the NFL to broadcast 10 games on its platform. Recent games have attracted more than 3 million viewers apiece, the company said. NBA-related content is next, with Twitter announcing plans this week for two sports talk shows during the upcoming season. You can expect more content around major league sports, including the NHL, to follow.
It may not be sports, but political gamesmanship has also been good for Twitter. The company live streamed all three presidential debates, and pulled in an average 3.3 million viewers on the last two. Its audience was mostly under the age of 35, a lucrative segment for advertisers, the company said. The election may end soon, but Twitter’s foray into news broadcasting won’t.
Expect greater use of artificial intelligence.
This year, Twitter altered its timeline algorithm so users see tweets they are likely to find important, not just those that were sent most recently. What’s more, the company has built machine learning and artificial intelligence into its notifications to make them more relevant and keep users engaged with the platform.
Executives said they plan to build machine learning into more parts of the platform, including how it “onboards” new users, how it encourages users to tweet, and how it serves up video advertisements. In all, the machine learning and artificial intelligence efforts are designed to make the user experience more personalized and seamless.
“We’re looking more broadly at everything that we can do around technology, and machine learning specifically, to improve all of our experiences to make sure that Twitter continues to be the fastest way to see what’s happening and also the highest-quality way,” chief executive Jack Dorsey said during a conference call Thursday.
This should not come as a surprise to those following the company’s acquisition history. In each of the past three years, Twitter has shelled out millions of dollars to scoop up artificial intelligence and machine learning start-ups. This summer, it paid $150 million for a firm called Magic Pony.
Expect more efforts to build online communities.
Users have traditionally turned to Twitter to follow the 140-character musings of individuals — from their friends and family to Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian West. Increasingly, though, the company wants to organize users around their shared interests.
One way Twitter plans to do that is to create timelines tailored to specific events, such as the aforementioned sporting events or political debates. Fans of a particular team or members of a political party could find the tweets of those with similar outlooks. Of course, in the long run, those communities could become markets for niche content and targeted advertising.
“In the past, we’ve definitely biased more toward helping people find individuals rather than meeting them around what they’re interested in and what topics they care about most,” Dorsey said. “We think Twitter is strongest around topics and interests, and we think we can do a much better job there.”
Read more from The Washington Post’s Innovations section.