Twitter’s Next Targets For Monetization Are Logged-Out And Casual Visitors

Twitter reported 284 million average monthly active users in its Q3 earnings today, but with growth down over the last month, the company diverted attention away from MAUs during its call by focusing on another, much bigger number: that of Twitter visitors who are either “logged out” or not registered at all. “Are they monetiseable?” CTO Anthony Noto rhetorically asked. “Yes.”

“Logged out” users — those who visit the site but are either not logged in or have never registered on Twitter — are anywhere from one to two times as big as the number of monthly active users, Noto said today during a call where he did quite a lot of the talking. In the most optimistic terms, that would turn a flagging 284 million into nearly 600 million, and Twitter made it clear that it will be a big target for ad serving in the future.

“We feel with confidence that we can monetize [logged out users] once we’ve nailed the consumer experience,” Noto noted. “Our ad team led by Adam Bain is very focused on monetizing these users.”

As for what that consumer experience is today, the company is still trying to “understand the behavior” of logged-off users before meddling with their experience, but it provided a quick sketch of where they are appearing today.

There are today four use cases for how logged-out users are visiting Twitter. The first use case, he said, is when you do a search for a person on a site like Google and you land on a profile page.

The second is when someone does a general search and they land just on a detailed Tweet page — “just literally that one tweet.”

The third is when those users visit Twitter as unregistered users and try to do a search where “they get nothing.” They have to log in, he noted, and many people don’t and so they bounce off that page.

The fourth are those who visit from a site like CNN and see a tweet and again gets just a very minimal experience.

Up to now, profile pages have had the most development work and are seeing a big bump in traffic so far, Noto said: an 83 percent increase in profile impressions; a 77 percent increase in profile scrolls; and a 15 percent in favorites on profiles. These profile pages will be just a starting point, though. One idea will be to use information like the search terms that brought users to specific pages and use those to shape what ads to serve to those visitors.

“Each one of these is a use case that gives us an opportunity for us to create an experience that is immersive,” he said. “That brings them into Twitter in a way that they want and not how we have traditionally provided that experience.”

Indeed, while Twitter may start to play around with things like profiles and what people see when they visit Twitter as casual users, it’s interesting to see just how far Twitter’s bigger strategy pulls away from Twitter altogether.

On top of logged-out users, Twitter’s plan to target more users will have an even thinner tie to use of the Twitter platform. As CEO Dick Costolo pointed out in the call, its new Fabric SDK — “the only SDK that app developers need” with services like analytics, advertising and new telephone-number-based sign in services — has the potential to reach 1 billion iOS and Android phone users, no tweeting required.