B&T chats with Twitter Australia’s new country director Suzy Nicolleti about the future of the platform and what will change in 2017.
A month ago, Twitter announced that Karen Stocks– the first managing director in Australia- will be departing after three years at the top job. Nicoletti was announced as her replacement, she has been at Twitter for three years as head of online sales in Australia, plus earlier this year she was profiled for B&T’s Women In Media (including my personal favourite story about working for JLo).
Nicolleti said this about Stocks: “I worked with Karen for eight years, both at Google and then at Twitter. Karen was obviously a fantastic leader, I learned a lot from her.”
This year has been tough for Twitter- among other things senior executive staff have departed, a 9 per cent cut of its global workforce, discontinuing Vine and multiple rumours of acquisitions (including Google, Salesforce, Disney and Apple). Last quarter, Twitter reported a net loss of $103 million, compared with a $132 million loss a year earlier. However revenues grew to $616 million.
“If you look at our metrics recently we’ve had two consecutive quarters of accelerating audience engagement, which is great. Revenues grew eight per cent to $616 million, that shows our monetisation strategy is working well. We have doubled down on ‘Live’, the US kicked off with the NFL live stream, we have a number of different Live partnership and a lot of momentum there.
“However, as we’re looking to the future, we’re looking for long-term growth and to be ultimately profitable in 2017. We did have to make some changes to make sure that all the resourcing we have is in fact aligned to maintain this growth.”
There are two changes which have impacted the global company and the Australian office: On the sales side and the partnership side. In Twitter Australia’s previous structure there were multiple sales channels which was “creating multiple touch-points and confusion for our advertisers and agencies”. The sales structure has been rejigged- from three sales teams to two.
“The second piece is partnership. We had a lot of different divisions within in Twitter working with our partners in market in a number of ways. But now everyone has combined to work with essentially four key verticals- news, entertainment, sports and creators. To make sure we’re bringing the best of Twitter to them.”
The big focus for Twitter, and seemingly every social media platform (including Instagram and Facebook), is the rise of Live. “What we’re really looking to do now is focusing more exclusively on the live streaming video offering in the future. We think Twitter Australia is uniquely positioned- firstly over 50 per cent of our revenue comes from video products which makes us a global leader in that respects. Secondly it’s the direction which Twitter is heading as a business.”
Australia was the first country, outside of the United States, to live stream a sporting event- this year’s Melbourne Cup- something with Nicoletti hailed as a great success. The Melbourne Cup trended number one globally on Twitter, number one in 12 different countries and trended in some way in 160 different cities.
“We got double the numbers during the 2016 Melbourne Cup compared to the 2015 Melbourne Cup. So a huge increase in engagement around the event. We also got a great brand experience – we had five key partners who were advertising against the Melbourne Cup opportunity. They were able to align with the event and we had a cost per view of 50 per cent lower then with other Twitter products.”
However, despite a stagnant user growth, Nicolleti said there was no intention do any above the line advertising campaigns – similar to what Twitter US did during the election – to get more users on the platform. “We don’t have any specific plans to announce in terms of marketing and what not. We think Live has been great for getting a lot of people interested in engaging and offering that experience. But in terms of marketing strategy isn’t ready for announcement.”
Nicoletti and the Twitter Australia team is focused on the year ahead, with a few key changes and restructures. “The core difference is we’re going to be a lot more streamlined in our focus which is exciting, we already know what we need to do and we’ve got the right people in place to execute. 2017 really should be about making it happen.”