Thursday, June 25, 2015

Let's talk Twitter

- Twitter
◦ Jack Dorsey replaces Dick Costolo as CEO
◦ Introduces two new tools
◦ Product Pages with buy buttons
◦ Project Lightning – curated event tweets
- YouTube will also curate User Generated content
- Facebook disrupting YouTube
- LinkedIN has a more robust business model
- Keeping Messages consistent across channels
- Personalization without forms?

Bonus: The Science of Great Visuals (NewsCred)

It's been a heck of a month for Twitter, On June 11th, Dick Costolo, the popular CEO stepped down and co-founder Jack Dorsey has stepped in as interim CEO as the Board searches for a permanent replacement. There have been whispers that Costolo would be out since January because, though Twitter continues to be an important platform, it's user growth has been stalled at around 350Mn users and the stock price has been struggling. Professor Aswath Damodaran of NYU Stern who is considered one of the world's foremost company valuators -- one of about a dozen people in the world whose opinions and comments actually move the market -- has said that Twitter could be a very valuable company, but not with it's current management who doesn't have a plan to convert users to revenue. That's what it needs.

So interesting that within 2 weeks of the transition, Twitter introduced two new tools. One for brands and one for consumers
- Twitter Product Pages will be created around some products to provide more information and content.Those pages will include multiple tweets, but they’ll also have basic product information — and, yes, the ability to actually make a purchase. A second revenue stream to tack on to their advertising revenue.
- And with Project Lightning, Twitter will collect and curate Tweets from live events. A button at the center of the Twitter app will direct users to events that are being talked about in real time.
And they say there are more tools to come. Twitter will continue to be powerful and relevant. It's not going away, in fact they may be an acquisition target. The word on the street is that one particular giant has a Googlie Eye on them. So stay tuned.

Along the same lines of Project Lightning, YouTube Newswire has just been announced. With more than 5 million hours of news video watched on YouTube every day and user-uploaded content comprising a major component of global events, YouTube's new service will be selecting the best of those pieces of eyewitness footage, complete with a dedicated Twitter feed and email newsletter. From my perspective, the only problem with that is the same as the problem with the mainstream media. The 'best' of those are in the eye of the beholder and there will be a natural slant that wasn't there when users selected what to watch purely by popularity.

According to eMarketer, Mobile video ads are expected to expand to $4Bn in 2016. That's a 50% increase in the last 2 years! And who will be the beneficiary of this? It's Facebook! The big story this year was supposed to be how YouTube was going to disrupt TV, but it's turned into how FB has disrupted YouTube. FB video views have exploded since the end of last year from 1Bn to 4Bn views. And mobile advertising now accounts for 3/4 of their $3.3Bn in quarterly ad revenue. That's up from ZERO% 30 months ago. That is an amazing performance! Seems like Facebook finds a place in our Digital News every month and it's not because I'm a Facebook fanboy. I don't really even like the platform. But credit where credit is due.

Remember, we talked last month about which companies were in the running to be the 5th Horseman of digital, joining Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple in the saddle. Uber was the closest, but I told you I'd dig into some of the other contenders over the next few months. And this month, it's LinkedIn...

According to L2, LinkedIn has a more robust business model than Facebook since it has multiple strong revenue sources pretty evenly divided between Premium membership, Recruitment tools and ad revenue, whereas FB only has ad sales. and LinkedIn is active in 200-plus countries, pretty much anyone who matters is on the site, including their fastest growing demographic, 38Mn college students and recent grads along with 1/3 of all professionals globally. Once you put a resume up, you’re unlikely to remove it. LinkedIn drives 1/3rd more traffic to corporate sites than all other platforms combined. They also have the biggest moat around them -- that is the most difficult barriers to entry for would be competitors. The next horseman? we'll see.

2/3s of brands don't keep messages consistent across platforms and only 7% of brands can recognize customer from channel to channel, even though half of consumers in a recent survey self-identify as more likely to buy if they are recognized across platforms.

But there's hope. 33% of brands say personalization is their primary focus for improving customer experience but a slight majority of consumers still don't want to share their data because of privacy concerns or form fatigue. Most brands are stymied by this barrier. Some are pioneering shopper assistance tools on their sites, helping customers build a profile that recommends products for them. But there are implicit ways of understanding customer needs like leveraging Browsing Behavior and Purchase History that allow a more personalized experience. Even allowing customers to customize and build their own navigation experience based on content tagging. We'll be talking more about this.