Twitter Inc May Be Selling Itself Short On External Traffic… Literally

Updated on

Twitter has been making the case for monetizing logged-out users for quite some time, but investors haven’t been buying it and now we know why. Interestingly, a third party has come up with data that could show the size of the opportunity that exists—if Twitter can figure out how to monetize it and communicate it to investors.

Logged-out users present an opportunity for Twitter

Verto Analytics has been studying the behavior differences between Twitter users who are logged in and those who are not. The firm found an interesting disparity between the two, and the company’s third quarter earnings report suggests that it is failing to monetize those logged-out users effectively.

Verto explains that it’s just not possible for Twitter to track external traffic the way it tracks logged-in users, which may be one reason the company is failing to monetize those logged-out users. After all, if brands and advertisers can’t see the size of their reach, they’re not going to sink much of their ad budgets into the platform.

The firm reports that in September, external traffic to the micro-blogging platform was almost double that of logged-in user traffic, and this is a trend that has been happening for some time. External traffic is defined as those who are exposed to Twitter content without being logged in, including through feeds embedded on other sites or services like news sites that have a scrolling Twitter feed. External traffic also includes those who watch the live streams on Twitter’s sites that do not require them to have an account. Verto shared this graphic with ValueWalk:

Further, external users spend an average of one hour and 47 minutes on the platform per month, compared to only 52 minutes for logged-in users.

TWTR needs live streams to be successful

Twitter shares jumped following the company’s earnings surprise in a remarkable turnaround from previous reports. The company has managed to sign several high-profile deals to live-stream major events such as NFL Thursday Night Football and the presidential debates. According to Verto, those live-streaming deals have brought a slight uptick in traffic among both logged-in and external users. Twitter saw a spike around the three presidential debates, according to the firm, and external users in particular were “tuning in” or viewing content of some sort:


However, the company’s ad revenue only increased 6% in the third quarter, and if it can’t prove that it can effectively monetize its audiences (both logged-in and external), its ad revenue and business model can’t last.

TWTR failed to monetize elections

We already know that Twitter failed to monetize the U.S. presidential elections despite all the activity and attention the platform has received. Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto admitted that the election hasn’t had any “noticeable impact” on the company’s user growth. Verto’s data on external users illustrates the opportunity that exists for Twitter if it can find a way to track and monetize them because clearly a huge opportunity has been missed because those external users are not converting to logged-in users.

Political campaigns and organizations don’t feel that the micro-blogging platform is an effective way to target independent voters, but the problem could be the lack of any kind of tracking of external users. Because they’re not logged in, Twitter doesn’t know anything about them. As a result, advertisers are starting to sour on the platform because while Facebook is getting even more effective at showing them an accurate return on their investment, Twitter can’t do it because the lion’s share of its users aren’t creating accounts and logging in.

How will the closure of Vine impact Twitter?

Verto Analytics also shared data on Vine, which the company said this week it is shuttering. The firm’s data shows that 7.9 million external users accessed Vine in September for an average of 0.1 hours spread over three months. The average session duration among external users is 1.7 minutes.

Unlike the rest of Twitter, Vine is more popular among logged-in users, as there were 27.9 million using the video platform in September. On average, they spent 0.2 hours over three sessions during the month, with the average session lasting 3.3 minutes.

Shares of TWTR rose by as much as 2.2% to $17.78 during regular trading hours on Friday.

Leave a Comment