Twitter grows data licensing revenue by 20%, and promises to take a more ‘proactive’ approach to online safety

Social media giant Twitter has seen an increase of 20% for both its total advertising revenue and its income from licensing data.

In addition, the financial results report for investors used the word “proactive” 11 times to communicate the company’s desire to be seen as taking a stronger – and indeed more active – stance on abusive content.

Total advertising revenue for quarter one of the calendar year was US$679m, an increase of 18%, or 20% on a constant currency basis, the company said. Data licensing and other revenue totalled US$107m, an increase of 20%.

Twitter’s revenue, operating income and average usage

In a release to investors, Twitter said it had been a solid start to the year.

“Revenue outperformance, in combination with lower expenses, resulted in better-than-expected profitability, with operating income of US$94m and operating margin of 12%.”

It also said it had an average monetisable DAU (daily active user) of 134m – up 11% year-on-year.

The company was also keen so spruik its improvements and developments this year, noting its focus on making Twitter more conversational and its new camera feature.

Its focus, however, was largely on online safety.

With social media companies increasingly under pressure to clean up their acts, protect their users, and do more to provide a safe environment – both in terms of data security and the content they publish and promote – Twitter said it was working to reduce abuse.

“We are taking a more proactive approach to reducing abuse on Twitter and its effects in 2019, with the goal of reducing the burden on victims of abuse and, where possible, taking action before abuse is reported,” the report said.

It is a case of one step at a time, the report implied.

“Our initial focus is on those types of abuse most likely to result in severe and immediate harm. As a result, improvements in Q1 emphasised proactive detection of rule violations and physical, or off-platform, safety – including making it easier to report tweets that share personal information, helping is remove 2.5 times more of this content.”

Twitter said it had deployed new machine-learning models to detect potential policy violations, and was also “proactively” sending flagged tweets to agents for review.

“This has resulted in Twitter taking down significantly more abusive content, much faster than before. Of the tweets we take down for abusive content every week, approximately 38% of them are now proactively detected.”

The word “proactive” appears 11 times in the report.

Twitter’s unaudited financial results

Despite the safety struggles, Twitter said its advertising offering was continuing to strike a chord with brands.

“Launching something new and connecting with what’s happening are resonating with advertisers,” the report said. “Our ad metrics reflect ongoing strong ROI for advertisers. Total ad engagement increased 23%, resulting from higher ad impressions and click through rates (CTR) across most ad formats.”

“Cost per ad engagement (CPE) decreased 4%, primarily driven by like-for-like price decreases across most ad formats due to improved CTR, which results in advertisers realising the same number of engagements (or more) at a lower (or similar) price, and a mix shift toward video ad formats that have lower CPEs and higher CTRs. CPE will vary from one period to another based on geographical performance, ad formats, campaign objectives, and auction dynamics.”

The company’s total operating expenses, including cost of revenue, grew 18% to US$693m. Twitter employs 4,100 people.


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