Twitter’s user growth spikes amid COVID-19, but ad sales tank

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The coronavirus helped President Trump’s favorite social media platform add a record number of users in the latest quarter — but ad sales still suffered, Twitter said on Friday.

Shares of the San Francisco-based company ended the day up 4 percent as investor’s cheered a 36-percent year-over-year increase in monetizable daily active users, or mDAU, to 186 million. It was Twitter’s strongest ever user growth and blew past analysts’ expectations for 176 million new users.

Twitter attributed the boom to more people sheltering in place and relying on their accounts to gather information about the virus

But the virus also hurt Twitter as its ad sales — which make up more than 80 percent of its revenue — dropped 23 percent, missing Wall Street’s expectations.

Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said Twitter is exploring other revenue models, including a subscription model, but warned that the project is still in the exploratory stage.

“We have a really high bar for when we would ask consumers to pay for aspects of Twitter,” he said.

Dorsey also apologized for last week’s major hack of prominent accounts — including those of Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Kim Kardashian — calling it a “very public and disappointing security issue.”

He said Twitter has taken steps to improve its security and “resiliency against targeted social engineering attempts.”

Shares of Twitter were up 2.8 percent Wednesday morning, at $37.98.

Overall revenue was down 19 percent year-over-year, and saw a boost from steadier sales growth from the licensing of users’ posts to researchers and marketers.

Twitter reported a loss of $1.2 billion because it did not make enough money to take advantage of the tax benefit tied its having moved intellectual property to Ireland last year.

The company said it finished rebuilding its ad-management technology in the second quarter, which would support faster development of new formats going forward, and was rolling out measurement tools for “direct response” ads used by app developers.

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