February 27, 2019

News, Video Send Twitter Ad Revenues Skyward

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.

Though its number of users should remain relatively stable over the next few years, Twitter is expected to generate $1.62 billion in ad revenues by the end of 2020, which will be a 22.8 percent increase over 2018’s revenues of $1.3 billion.

What’s driving the surging revenues? Both news — for which many people have abandoned newspapers because they can get it free on Twitter and other social media — and video, which will account for nearly 60 percent of Twitter’s total ad revenues by the end of 2020. Those two forces helped Twitter post a better-than-expected fourth quarter for 2018 and the year in total.

“Twitter’s better-than-expected performance is due in large part to increased political ad spending related to the U.S. midterm elections and increased advertising associated with the tail-end of the FIFA World Cup Championships,” eMarketer forecaster Monica Peart said.

“Twitter has developed deep partnerships with premium video publishers, such as Bloomberg, NFL, ESPN, NBCUniversal and BuzzFeed and innovated high-engagement video ads to feature alongside that premium video content.”

The number of people who use Twitter, meanwhile, is forecast to grow albeit slightly over the next five years, from 55.2 million at the end of 2018 to 56.9 million in 2022, according to eMarketer. Twitter’s “real-time conversation appeal” and its attraction as a major news platform at least continue to give it a bit of user growth.

Print Numbers Still Drop, But There’s Hope …

Last week’s Twitter numbers and projections from eMarketer follow a report last month from the Pew Research Center that social media now outpaces print as a news source for Americans.

Pew said 20 percent of adult news readers in the U.S. now get their information primarily through social media, compared to 16 percent who turn to newspapers. (Television led the way as a primary news source at 49 percent, followed by news websites at 33 percent and radio at 26 percent.)

Not all is doom and gloom for the world of print and newspapers, though. Newspapers both large and small continue to hang on because they’re embracing the digital movement. And, as marketers continue to delve into programmatic ad tactics that target prime, local audiences, they’re giving community newspapers — as well as local TV and radio — a closer look.

A Columbia Journalism Review study from late 2017 found that smaller newspapers, particularly, “may be in a stronger position than their metro cousins.”

“While local outlets face the same challenges associated with their larger regional and national counterparts … they’ve experienced notable resilience thanks in part to exclusive content not offered elsewhere, the dynamics of ultra-local advertising markets, and an ability to leverage a physical closeness to their audience,” the CJR study said.

Editor & Publisher, longtime journal of the newspaper industry, meanwhile, recently presented a case study of a 3,000-daily-circulation newspaper, the Alexander City Outlook, Alexander City, Alabama, as one of “10 Newspapers That Do It Right 2018.”

Upon arrival of a new publisher in 2016, the Outlook, which already had experimented with video and social media somewhat, got more aggressive, adding pages to its print product to give readers there more photo and visual content, but also grasping what the digital world could bring to the paper and community.

Live video on the paper’s website now delivers breaking news immediately; city council meetings and events are broadcast live; a sports talk show draws local sponsors; and, live weather reports and interviews from news features are captured in both video and photos. The videos often draw tens of thousands of viewers and serve as teasers to the next print edition, the paper says.

Success truly blossomed with the paper’s hiring of a digital sales specialist who oversees web ads, commercials and sponsored content. Overall, digital ad revenue for the Outlook climbed from $56,000 to $104,000 from 2016 to 2017 — an 83.9-percent increase, Editor & Publisher reported.

The Outlook’s website, meanwhile, saw its total number of sessions jump to 2.3 million for the year, which was a 10.71-percent increase over the previous year; first-time visits to the site climbed 14.95 percent; and, follows on Facebook increased by almost 5,000 in a year, with more than 16,000 page likes.

With all of those efforts and work, the Outlook’s average weekly reach in 2017 was 67,676, or more than 20 times its print circulation.

“In a town of a little more than 14,000 residents, that’s not too bad,” the Outlook’s editor, Mitch Sneed, told E&P.

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