By Tunde Osho
Twitter’s boss Jack Dorsey admits the platform hasn’t done enough to differentiate its ad product or prove to advertisers that it works.
Dorsey has promised to overhaul its ad offering to make it a more attractive proposition to advertisers after admitting it was previously too complicated, making it hard to see its point of difference.
Speaking in a Q&A session with WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell at the Dmexco ad tech conference in Cologne, Dorsey claimed that while it has a very strong differentiated business advantage, it hasn’t clearly communicated that with marketers and agencies. And that failure can be seen in its results. Revenues were down for the first two quarters of this year for the first time on the back of stalling user growth.
When questioned by Sorrell over whether the experience had been too “clunky” for advertisers, Dorsey admitted that it was and said the focus has been on simplifying its ad product and proving that it works.
“We haven’t focused enough on ROI,” he said. “We have to make sure every advertiser can see that it works.”
Yet Sorrell questioned whether this was working. He highlighted that WPP spent just $300m on the platform last year and that it’s unlikely there will be an increase in that figure this year. By comparison, his company spent $5.5bn on Google and $2.2bn on Facebook.
One of Twitter’s biggest struggles has been comparisons with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and to an extent Snapchat, which have all seen much faster growth rates. Twitter now has 330 million active monthly users, but growth is decelerating.
However, Dorsey claimed that is in part because people are measuring the wrong thing. He said there is a tendency to underestimate the power of “the conversation and the zeitgeist” but that this is critical to brands in terms of getting an immediate reaction to news or product launches.
Plus, he added, Twitter has achieved “brand awareness unlike any other business” with some of the most influential people in the world, most notably US President Donald Trump, using the platform.
Dorseys wants people to focus on its “daily utility” as a measure of Twitter’s value. And that, he claimed, is going up as the platform makes it easier for people to find people or brands of interest to follow using machine learning.