Twitter’s next big move could be interesting for publishers

The move is apparently part of the new strategy of the company’s interim CEO, and co-founder Jack Dorsey. He certainly would leave his mark if he does ditch the company’s signature feature.

It has however become pretty clear that Dorsey isn’t thinking of doing anything of the sort. Twitter faces a major issue in that it was forced to lower its revenue projections for 2015 back in April, and this is something Dorsey is keen to address. Hios response may be to lift the 140 characters limit, but only for power users who could attract additional advertising revenue, and by that we mean the media. 

Google’s project

In fact there have been rumours that Twitter has been working with Google on a project that will enable readers to access articles without leaving Google or Twitter and that it has a press conference lined up for Wednesday this week to announce this. Crucially, the rumour is that the articles would not be hosted by Google but instead pulled from a cached search, making the load time decrease significantly.

Whether to publish content on third party platforms has been a major dilemma for media brands for some time. Should they opt for reach and post on a video on YouTube? Or just publish it on their own web property and take the higher advertising CPMs they are likely to attract?

Over the past few months, largely driven by social media networks need to present content in intuitive ways of mobile devices, we have seen Facebook add its Instant articles and Snapchat’s Discover programme. Both enable media companies to post directly onto the social networks with the promise of a slice of the advertising action in return.

Now it appears that Twitter is about to offer its own twist on publishing content in this way. I am guessing now, but I can imagine that each post will bear an ‘expand’ option. Users will click on this and read the article without leaving their Twitter app on mobiles, or profile page/Tweetdeck on desktop.

There are pundits who believe that the move is solely about longform content. I don’t think this is necessarily the case. Publishers are just as likely to post short, three to four paragraphs breaking news pieces too.

Ultimately what publishers lose from this arrangement is the possibility that they might get further clicks as users explore their site, as well as potential brand loyalty. It is also likely that the CPMs offered by Twitter are going to be significantly less than those the publisher, if they are a large news company, can attract for their own pages. Yet publishing in this way means it is certain that many more people will see original content.

There are no clues yet as to how advertising would work on either Twitter or Google pages and whether the deal that is offered to publishers is going to be attractive enough for them to agree to partner the tech companies,.

Bizarrely too it raises the possibility that at some point media organisations could exist which don’t actually boast their own websites but rather create content and monetise it exclusively via social media.

What is likely to prevent that in this short term at least is that Twitter, like Facebook and Snapchat  is going to pretty picky as to which publishers are able to distribute content in this way. The conversations with BuzzFeed are surely ongoing, I think it may be a while before the editor of Farming Monthly gets the call.

Whatever happens, the next few weeks are going to be fascinating for publishers who rely on Twitter for a significant amount of their traffic. 

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