Twitter’s 2016 Roadmap: Live Video Ads, Easier Replies, Expanding Moments & More
Twitter reveals several planned improvements for 2016 in the name of fixing "broken windows" and making the service more intuitive.
Twitter took the somewhat unusual step today of revealing a number of planned improvements for 2016 — changes that involve the company’s core user experience, its advertising business and its onboarding process for new users.
“We do feel there are a number of broken windows that are inhibiting growth,” CEO Jack Dorsey said on the company’s earnings call. He said Twitter will “refine our core service to make everything more intuitive” and “give creators and influencers the best tools to connect with their audiences.”
Twitter’s plans are outlined in its Q4 2015 shareholder letter, which was published today as part of the company’s latest quarterly earnings report. Twitter reported revenue in line with Wall Street’s expectations, but its flat user growth continues to alarm analysts.
To change that tide, Twitter outlined its priorities for 2016. That roadmap includes improving user safety, helping developers and a trio of changes that could directly impact how brands and marketers use the service.
Live Video Ads Via Periscope
Twitter says it’s just launched a test that lets marketers promote live Periscope broadcasts via Twitter ads. Here’s how it’s described in the shareholder letter:
This week we began a pilot with a handful of marketers on Twitter to allow them to promote Tweets with Periscope broadcasts within our Promoted Video campaign objective. Targeting and reporting are the same as the advanced Twitter capabilities currently available when running any Promoted Video campaign. Periscopes on Twitter point to a new live direction for the ad industry that redefines the creative landscape.
Twitter’s letter promises to “invest heavily in these first-screen, connected audience experiences,” and it’s obvious that Periscope will play a bigger role in the Twitter experience going forward.
Fixing @ Reply Rules & Syntax
During the earnings call, Dorsey and other Twitter executives spoke repeatedly about improving the Twitter timeline and refining the “core experience.” The shareholder letter makes a specific reference to a planned change in how Twitter users have conversations:
We are going to fix the broken windows and confusing parts, like the .@name syntax and @reply rules, that we know inhibit usage and drive people away.
The call offered nothing further on that specifically, but it’s a reference to the fact that tweet replies are seen by a limited number of users, unless you put a period (or some other character) before the username that you’re replying to. It’s an example of one Twitter convention that new and infrequent users probably don’t understand.
Expanding Twitter Moments
Moments is a recent Twitter product aimed at showing the world — Twitter user or not — the important tweets and conversations that are happening on Twitter. The feature seems to have been met with a lukewarm reception so far, but Twitter is standing behind Moments — and even planning to expand it this year, according to the shareholder letter.
… we’re going to enable more people and media partners to create and share Moments, which is proving to be a great medium for storytelling through Tweets.
For now, Moments are “curated by Twitter and select partners,” according to the official documentation. Those “select partners” include advertisers, dating back to the first Promoted Moment in October for the movie, “Creed.”
Big Picture: Twitter Is Live
Although Twitter announced a new, non-chronological timeline option earlier today, Dorsey promised that Twitter’s 2016 plans will involve a “relentless focus on live.”
“The focus will be on the timeline,” he said. Twitter will “show the world these live events, find the best way to bring people in to these live events — show them the context and help them connect with others.”