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Is Twitter’s silver bullet livestreaming?

New Australian managing director Suzy Nicoletti on 2017 strategy

Suzy Nicoletti

Suzy Nicoletti is former head of online sales at Twitter Australia and has been at the company for three years.

Just last month she stepped up to be managing director Australia, taking over from Karen Stocks. In her previous role at Twitter, Nicoletti looked after mid-market and small medium business channels.

Nicoletti has worked in Australia for eight years, spending that time in the online sector and working at Google in the US and here prior to Twitter.

After significant staff cuts globally, speculation about a failed sale process and with a change of leadership here, when asked if 2016 had been a challenging year for Twitter, Nicoletti told Mediaweek: “It has been a transitional year for the business.

“Over 50% of Twitter’s revenue in this market comes from video.”

“If we think back to how the year started we had [Twitter co-founder] Jack Dorsey taking the helm again as CEO and he wanted the company to focus on a couple of key areas. We have learned a lot this year and what has been good about 2016 is that we found our sweet spot – the thing that is going to bring us success.

“We have had two successive quarters of audience growth and engagement, which is great. In our Q3 earnings we exceeded expectations and our focus on live, which kicked off with the NRL live stream deal in the US, has done incredibly well. We are now very clear about what it takes to be successful in the future.”

People judge Twitter on different statistics and revenue numbers. Nicoletti said audience growth and engagement alongside revenue are the metrics that need to be focused on. “What we are really focusing on is user experience. We believe if we get that right then the other components really come together.”

Although Nicoletti is not able to quote specific Australian performance, she explained that over 40% of revenue comes from international markets. “They are growing 21% YOY. The Asian-Pacific region has been a growth engine for the business with Australia being a key part of that.”

In looking at how to make Twitter more profitable in 2017, Nicoletti explained two key changes were made. “Number one was the sales team. What we did have was multiple touch points in multiple sales channels, which was creating a confusing experience for consumers and agencies. We have streamlined that to have one sales channel, the Twitter client solutions team, which is aligned with our top priorities in market.

“The second change is that we used to have a number of different teams working with various partners in market across a wide range of industries. We have streamlined that to form one partnerships team that is going to focus on news, entertainment, sports and creators. We are also going to enable our partners to monetise their Twitter audiences.”

What that means for Australia is that Twitter is going to focus on two areas where they have done very well. “The first is working with our top clients and partners to reach them in innovative ways. Australia is a global leader in innovation and an example of that is we recently held the global Twitter awards which looked for global campaigns that showcased innovation and impact. There were thousands of entries and 15 winners. Two of those winners were from this market – Tourism Victoria with their Play Melbourne campaign and Snickers with Hungerithm.

“We will work with brands to come up with ways they can reach their customers in more impactful ways.

“A great example is Optus who bought the rights to the EPL. We liaised with them to build a world-first mechanic that enables us to send consumers directly to the Optus sales team. It was an impactful campaign for a number of reasons – 62% of the traffic we sent to them via direct message was from customers on rival networks, the campaign reached 4.3m users and in terms of ROI for every $1 they invested they made over double that back.”

As to how Twitter will work on live in Australia, Nicoletti talked about the opportunities for video and mobile. “Over 50% of Twitter’s revenue in this market comes from video.” An extension of that is livestreaming video, with Nicoletti explaining their success with the Melbourne Cup this year.

“This was the first livestream deal done by Twitter outside of the US. It was successful for a number of reasons. We wanted to bring a livestream event and a conversation into one place. What we saw here was double the number of Melbourne Cup tweets YOY and the livestream was a big part of that and we were able to align brands to the livestream.”

The Twitter MD said the platform was able to offer a new revenue stream to the race rights holder and it allows them to take the event to the world. “The Melbourne Cup trended #1 worldwide and #1 in 12 countries and it trended some way in 168 cities. We are looking to have more livestream events to help broadcasters expand the events.”

In addition to the NFL deal, Twitter had live events associated with the recent US election and there have been more recent deals in the areas of sport, politics and entertainment.

“Right now we are having conversations with a number of different vendors and broadcasters about live opportunities. We are also working on global livestream deals that will offer brands an Australian marketing opportunity.”

Livestream Twitter events offer both a distribution and a revenue opportunity.

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