Last month, Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) CFO Anthony Noto spoke at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom conference. While on stage, he told the audience that Twitter has a huge opportunity to organize and distribute its content in a better way. "We have the best aggregation of real-time content," he said. "And the opportunity we have is to organize that in a better way -- in a unique way -- and then bring the best of Twitter to where people want it, when they want it, and how they want it. And we've only scratched the surface."
Last week, Twitter publicly launched Curator, a new product that lets publishers and media organizations filter and display tweets on any screen in real time. By having Twitter do the compiling, Curator gives Twitter more control over how its content gets syndicated, opening the door for potential monetization down the line. Twitter notes that "for example, you can find Tweets including #MarchMadness, from users with 100+ followers located in the US. You can then use Curator to display the best Tweets from that search into your mobile app, during a TV show broadcast, or on any screen regardless of size."
More control over syndication
One of the things Noto pointed out at the Morgan Stanley conference was that "Best Tweets of..." articles are constantly popping up on sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post after big events like the Oscars or Super Bowl. He believes Twitter should have more of a hand in that content. Curator can do that.
More importantly, Curator makes it easier for publishers and media outlets to gather and organize tweets for just about any event. From a television broadcast to a concert to a sporting event, tweets are being sent out all the time. News broadcasters might use Curator to place tweets in their news ticker at the bottom of the screen.
This is all part of Twitter's effort to expand its audience, whether that audience is logged-in users or not. Even without log-ins, management believes the eyeballs it attracts to its content are worth billions. It recently started monetizing syndicated tweets, partnering with third-party apps and websites like FlipBoard to place ads in syndicated feeds. Down the line, Twitter may force ads into some uses of Curator.
Seeing what works
The other benefit of Curator is that Twitter is simply providing some nice tools to filter its fire hose of data while media outlets are in charge of thinking about what their audience might want. Meanwhile, Twitter will be able to collect loads of data about what media outlets are using Curator for, and how the audience responds to it.
Twitter itself has started curating tweets around major events like the Cricket World Cup and NFL games. Management says it wants to do more of these curated timelines, and Noto believes he can ultimately monetize these curated timelines better than personal timelines. That's because the people viewing those curated timelines have expressed explicit interests.
While Curator content is hosted on a media outlet's website, Twitter will be able to find what works best and create its own curated timeline on its own website. That gives Twitter valuable content to feed directly to its users and direct visitors, and it can keep all of the ad revenue for itself.
All about the audience
Twitter has no plans to charge for Curator or add premium features. Instead, it will capitalize on the additional exposure its content receives, and eventually cash in with advertisements or by migrating some curations to its own website. While many outlets already curate tweets by hand, the new tool will make it easier for outlets to gather tweets, and easier for Twitter to monetize its syndicated audience.
In November, Noto said Twitter's logged-out audience could be worth $1.3 billion. It will have to create potential monetization opportunities at nearly every instance people see tweets in order to reach that number. Curator is an excellent step toward that goal.