Twitter has seen phenomenal growth in numbers and revenue in India. The focus on the region has become more pronounced than ever before and the India story is driving a new chapter of growth for the company that is looking to scale up to match its arch competitors. In an interview with IMPACT, Taranjeet Singh, Country Director, Twitter India, talks about the growing clout of the Indian operations and how Twitter is leveraging this unique opportunity, apart from dealing with some unique challenges that this market present.
Q] Globally, Twitter’s ad revenue increased 21% yearon-year in Q1 2018. What’s Twitter India’s growth trajectory been like over the last quarter? How is India contributing to the overall growth of Twitter? Q1 has been a great quarter for the company globally. Our revenues grew by 21% YoY, and what we also saw was 10% growth in our Daily Active Users (DAUs). India is undoubtedly a key market for us and we continue to grow. We are one of the fastest growing markets in the world and will continue to remain a high potential, highly promising market.
Q] In the Q1 earnings call, Ned Segal, CFO, Twitter, noted that ad engagements on Twitter were up by 69%. Does the same hold true for India? What are the numbers for India? Twitter in India is across the country. We are seeing a massive volume of conversations across moments which matter. Whether it is entertainment, sports, news or politics, there is huge audience growth and engagement. What is really interesting to see is that we have been able to improve cost per engagement for our advertisers massively, and that we are becoming a far more efficient platform for brands and our advertisers. Videos contributed to 50% of our revenue globally and video is one of our fastest growing products. In India, we have seen huge traction too. It’s a great time to be at Twitter.
Q] Video ads contributed to more than 50% of Twitter’s ad revenue in Q1 2018. What’s the kind of interest you are seeing from brands in video ads on Twitter? What percentage of Twitter India’s ad revenue comes from video ads? Video is growing across the world including India, and video is one of our fastest growing ad units. We have also been investing a lot towards building and making efficient video products for our advertisers. We are focusing on bringing in the right live content, and more premium video partnerships with our premium publishers. If you look at the overall ecosystem from an audience point of view, today India is a young country with 50% population below the age of 25. So when you are talking about millennials and Gen Z, these are audiences who are mobile first. Now the way the overall ecosystem in the country is growing - the ongoing telecom revolution with India having the lowest data cost and amazing 4G network speed across the country, video as a consumption will increase even further. If you look at the audience behaviour from a millennial point of view, mobile is the first screen. Moreover, we are ensuring a brand safe environment on the premium video content with the publishers we are tying up with, and that is the strength which Twitter brings to the table.
Q] Which revenue streams are seeing growth and adoption in India? This is in line with our global trends. What is really important for us right now is to invest in educating brands, advertising agencies and our partners about the efficiency with which they can use the platform. Twitter is an amazing medium and every platform has its core strength. Today, news breaks on Twitter first. Whether it is entertainment, sports, news or politics - all sorts of content or moments first pan out on Twitter and then travel outside. If you look at how users come in, it’s a very linear experience. They are coming in to discover what is happening in the world, in their country or city, and for a brand, this presents a very powerful proposition and platform to associate with. Once you use this power of the medium, your content gets better traction and your ads get better engagement.
Twitter has a very unique role because of its in-the-moment engagement. So, if any advertiser or brand wants to reach out to an audience which is engaged, Twitter is the best place to do it. We are constantly investing in working with our key partners, key clients, and agency partners to help them and their teams understand how they should be looking at Twitter. What content strategies they should be thinking of, how each Twitter product works and how to build efficiency. Our focus is not to be a transactional medium where somebody just comes and buys media. As an organization, our focus is to build strategic partnerships by helping businesses achieve their business KPIs.
Q] How many monthly active users (MAUs) and daily active users (DAUs) does Twitter have currently in India? What has the YoY growth been from Q1 2017? We are seeing a huge amount of growth, and India, as I said, continues to be our fastest growing market.
Q] As election season is here, what are the precautions Twitter is taking in India to prevent the spread of fake news? Fake news has become a catchphrase. We deeply care about misinformation and people who are talking about it online. As a platform, we feel that no single actor should be the arbiter of truth. We are partnering with the right agencies and media organizations and verifying political candidates so people know whom to follow or who is the right person they should be getting information from. Safety for us is a big initiative and in the last 18 months, we have made almost 30 changes to our products. Safety is definitely the number one priority for us. During the recent Karnataka elections, we saw around five million tweets around the election and the conversations continue to grow. Twitter is where things happen, and we encourage people to come and have a healthy debate, share their points of view and be a part of the conversation. We are also partnering with law enforcement agencies, the Election Commission and regulators, and we are verifying and building capacity with political organizations to ensure that people know who the right candidate is. We are also partnering with news and other media organizations to use the platform in a credible way and making sure their content is available. What we are also doing is enabling hashtags, not just in English, but in various Indian languages. We are also fighting hard against malicious accounts, especially the ones who try to spam the system, and we are putting processes and policies in place to ensure that we do our bit.
Q] What has the IPL season meant for Twitter this year? This T-20 league chatter happens on a daily basis; every day the match between different teams are trending and people are having conversations on a ball to ball basis. I would say it has become another big driver of engagement on Twitter.
Q] Finally, what is Twitter India going to be presenting at Cannes this year? At Cannes, we always showcase the best of Twitter. If you look at last year’s results, 75% of Cannes winners were Twitter campaigns. Twitter is now playing a big role in these awards because of these amazing Twitter campaigns getting highlighted and showcased. For us, it is a great opportunity to meet our partners and showcase the best of what is happening at Twitter.