At the announcement of Twitter’s fourth quarter earnings, CEO Dick Costolo confirmed that the company has entered into what is being termed a ‘firehose’ deal with Google, which will put tweets back into organic search results. The idea behind the deal is a very simple one: increased online visibility for tweets and therefore more click-throughs to the Twitter website, where the company aims to monetise the traffic with advertising activity.
The announcement comes on the back of recent rumours speculating that the companies would enter into an agreement, the first of this type between the two since their last firehose arrangement back in 2009. The new deal coincides with Twitter’s refocusing on bringing in traffic to its site and using it to generate revenue, something that historically it has been poor at doing, particularly compared to social media rival Facebook.
The link-up will be focused primarily on what is known as ‘onboarding’, which is a system that targets logged out or unregistered users. How this works is that when a user of this type sees a tweet on the Google SERP that gets their interest and they click on it, they are taken to a page. This page not only offers them the chance to log back in or join the network for the first time, but also displays two or three adverts. These ads will promote events and topics that Twitter is planning on delivering on its front page in the near future, with the aim of encouraging the logged out user to engage with the network.
One early example of this technique is now underway with users on the subcontinent, India in particular, with the Cricket World Cup in Australia just around the corner. Logged out users will be given the opportunity to sign up for updates on the tournament.
In this instance, users do not have to sign up to Twitter if they do not wish to; instead, they can sign up to an SMS-based service but that option also gives Twitter the opportunity to market to the user through advertisements. The Cricket World Cup makes sense as a testing ground for onboarding as a recent study found that almost 90% of the area’s Twitter users are fans of the sport.
Twitter it would seem, is getting serious about making money.