Twitter Said to Plan Marketing Campaign, Ads for Live Events

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Twitter Inc. is working on a marketing campaign to better explain how to use its services, people with knowledge of the effort said.

The company, which is in the middle of a search for a new chief executive officer, wants use the campaign to show the public the benefits of Twitter, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan hasn’t yet been announced. It’s the first major campaign by Twitter to promote its own products. Twitter is also developing a new feature -- called Project Lightning internally -- that will organize content around live events.

The moves are aimed at battling the perception that Twitter is mainly a gathering place for celebrities, politicians and journalists. Twitter is making the changes during CEO Dick Costolo’s last weeks at the company. Jack Dorsey, a former CEO and co-founder, will step in starting July 1 on an interim basis while the board searches for a permanent replacement. Twitter lost favor with some investors after several quarters of frequent management change, slowing user growth and, more recently, disappointing revenue figures.

Natalie Miyake, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Twitter, declined to comment.

As the company determines how to organize its content for non-users, it’s also figuring out how to tell its own story, in response to criticism from investors, including Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca, that its purpose isn’t clear to outsiders. The company is considering slogans and strategy for a broad marketing campaign, though it hasn’t yet decided what to say or what to budget for the effort, the people said.

Lack of clarity on Twitter’s direction has helped fuel speculation that it should be sold. Sacca said Thursday that if new products launch soon, the company should remain independent.

Project Lightning

With Project Lightning’s separate channels for events happening in real time, Twitter will be able to curate content for an audience whether they have an account or not, using a mix of human editors and algorithms. That could appeal to people who don’t want to go through the trouble of setting up an account and figuring out who to follow.

That would also let Twitter sell ads beyond their typical “promoted tweets,” shown within a user’s timeline. The viewers for those ads don’t have to be regular Twitter users. That opens up new possibilities, such as streaming shows at the same time as they’re on television and sharing the revenue with broadcasters -- an option that may work for awards shows or sports, the people said. The company could also have larger-format photo or video advertising, or have a company sponsor a live stream.

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