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Twitter wants to sell users' tweets

News, 23 March 2015

LONDON: Marketers could soon gain greater access to the vast mine of data that Twitter users generate each day after the social network's data strategy chief confirmed plans to increase sales from tweets.

Sales amounted to $70m in 2014, a tiny proportion of Twitter's overall revenues of $1.3bn, and Chris Moody told the Guardian that the company wants to increase that amount from its 288 million active users.

Moody, the former CEO of data analytics firm Gnip which Twitter acquired last year, explained that Twitter can match its users to a company's database of customers to provide targeted advertising.

"You bring your data to us and we will ensure that your customers, if they exist on Twitter – we can provide advertisements to them," he said, while also acknowledging the ongoing issue of data privacy.

"It's done in a completely anonymised fashion, so we are not sharing private information," he stressed.

By way of an example, he suggested that Samsung, the Korean tech giant and rival to Apple, could use Twitter when Apple launches its next iPhone later this year.

He said Samsung could check Twitter to single out Apple customers who might be thinking of switching brands. Alternatively, it could identify the phone features that most appeal to users and then employ that data to design and target real-time advertising.

"Twitter gives this fascinating ability to understand people in context like we've never been able to do before," Moody said.

"It's not 'I know that Chris Moody is a 48-year-old male' – which is how we've thought about marketing in the past – but 'I understand that Chris Moody is dealing with the death of a parent because he's talking about it on this public platform'."

A more positive example could be of a grandparent travelling by plane to see a newborn grandchild. The airline would know the good news from tweets and could congratulate the traveller on arrival and leave a gift on their seat.

Twitter does not share the content of direct messages, but its privacy policy is clear that "what you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly".

Data sourced from the Guardian; additional content by Warc staff