Twitter Said to Test New Profile Pages to Boost Usage on Website
Twitter Inc. (TWTR) is testing redesigns of members’ profiles, one of several product updates aimed at keeping users engaged with the microblogging service, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
The profile pages, which include postings, pictures and followers, may be redesigned to highlight more useful content, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the update hasn’t been released yet. That would make a user’s most-popular post more prominent, for example, the person added.
Twitter has stepped up the pace of development and is moving quickly to integrate acquisitions, seeking to deliver revenue growth in line with a valuation that has doubled since an initial public offering last month. The buzz of activity underscores how Twitter wants to keep its more than 230 million users attached to the site, making them more valuable to advertisers, according to Brian Nowak, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group.
“This is all part of the long-term story of Twitter improving their user offerings and improving their advertising offerings to ultimately drive more ad dollars,” said Nowak, who has the equivalent of a hold rating on Twitter.
Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Twitter, declined to comment on future product updates.
Twitter enhanced its keyword-based advertising service today, giving advertisers more ways to reach an audience based on keywords in posts. That came on top of an update this week to add photo capabilities for direct messages sent via Twitter. The company also started including pictures and videos more prominently in users’ streams in October, and introduced enhancements in August to make it easier to track conversations.
Investors are putting a premium on Twitter’s valuation, projecting that revenue will increase more quickly than at competing sites. The stock trades at about 26 times projected revenue for 2014. That makes it more expensive than Facebook Inc. (FB), with a price-to-sales ratio of about 12, and LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD), which trades at about 13 times estimated revenue. Twitter isn’t projected to make a profit until 2016, based on the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Twitter rose less than 1 percent to a record $52.34 at the close in New York. The shares have more than doubled since the IPO on Nov. 6, when they went for $26 apiece.
The microblogging service is pushing to expand the number of users and get them to spend more time on the site. Last week, Twitter upgraded a tool that lets marketers reach members who have already expressed interest in their products based on their Web-browsing histories.
“They’ve been picking up the pace with announcements about these products,” Nowak said.
Twitter is also working to quickly integrate MoPub Inc., a mobile-advertising exchange it agreed to buy in September for about $350 million in stock. With Twitter’s share rally, MoPub’s value is now closer to $900 million, according to people with knowledge of the terms.
Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Twitter, declined to comment on MoPub’s value.
MoPub is an advertising exchange, meaning it can help marketers find websites or apps that feature audiences they’re seeking to reach, such as males 18 to 34 years old, or people in New York looking to buy new shoes. By using tracking data, the exchange can find people who may have recently visited online retailers and display promotions elsewhere.
Tracking isn’t as widely available on smartphones and tablets. Twitter could link its user information with data already available on MoPub for richer member profiles, according to two people familiar with the startup’s technology. That could also let MoPub to charge more for its services, the people said.
“The MoPub acquisition might be one of the more ingenious things that Twitter has done in the past six to 12 months if you think about the areas that are red hot today,” said David Cohen, chief investment officer at UM, a media-buying and planning firm that’s part of IPG Mediabrands, a unit of the Interpublic Group of Cos.
Advertisers are increasingly looking for more efficient ways to buy across screens -- from TVs to tablets to desktops -- to keep pace with consumers’ behavior. MoPub’s advantage in mobile media should help Twitter become more attractive to marketers, Cohen said.
“MoPub totally solves a problem for Twitter,” Cohen said. “One of the challenges that Twitter has faced is a limited product suite, meaning few areas in which an advertiser can place their message. MoPub opens up a whole new opportunity for them in accessing inventory and creating new ad products.”
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