After strong results from Facebook and Snap this quarter, all eyes were on Twitter to see if the other big, publicly listed social network could deliver a hat trick of growth. If we judged the company on financials alone, the company did not disappoint, with revenues coming in at $909 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.33 with a net income of $244 million. On average, analysts had been expecting revenues of $859.5 million on an EPS of $0.25.
However, user growth has now slumped to at 321 million monthly active users, falling short even of estimates that were expecting a decline.
Advertising revenues were $791 million, accounting for 87 percent of the company’s revenues. “Monetizeable daily active users” are now at 126 million up from 124 million in the previous quarter.
Shares are equally slumping in pre-market trading, down more than seven percent so far.
To put user growth into some context, Twitter has long-standing issues with user growth that even predate the company going public, and many quarters (such as last quarter, when it also beat estimates on revenues of $758 million and earnings per share of 21 cents; and a year ago, when it also crushed ) user numbers, specifically monthly active users, remained flat or even shrunk.
(Even analysts factor in declines to their own estimates. Analysts had been expecting 324 million monthly active users in Q4, according to a poll from Bloomberg, down from 326 million in Q3.)
Some of Twitter’s challenges on the user-number front have included the fact that despite its almost addictive popularity with some people, a strong showing from very high profile figures “speaking to the people” on Twitter, and the fact that it’s become a go-to for the media both to source news as well as broadcast — the real-time aspect of the feed lends itself well to all of these — it has been hard for it to find that groove with everyone.
Especially for many later adopting, newer users Twitter has proven to be confusing or too much work to use. That’s led to the company regularly tweaking the service to try to make it more user-friendly, with the latest move being that the company is planning a “beta” app to run multiple experiments simultaneously on a live audience receptive to seeing those and giving feedback.
As with Snap’s Snapchat, Twitter has worked to mitigate those numbers another way, too: by focusing on daily active over monthly active users. Here the numbers are up:
The reason why user numbers ultimately matter is that the general thinking goes that, in a business based around advertising and user data, as Twitter is, the larger audience you have the more revenue you can make off them as a product — a turn that Google and Facebook have made to great effect.
But despite Twitter’s issues with user growth, the company has been coming up trumps (sorry) with its business model, specifically initiatives around advertising and marketing and figuring out more clever ways of targeting those who are on there. Its ad revenues were up 23 percent, and Twitter said that new formats around video media are in particular showing strong results. Video accounted for more than half of Twitter’s ad revenues in the quarter and for all of 2018.
Less strong this quarter were the company’s various enterprise efforts. The company said that data licensing and other revenue totalled $117 million, an increase of 35 percent but still a small proportion of overall revenues.
More to come.
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