Twitter’s 4 Major Moves To Make Money–If Brands Don’t Kill It First

Twitter’s had a busy 24 hours: “buy now” button, mobile ad unit, ad-tech acquisition, and new CFO. [Update: Make that five moves.]

Twitter’s 4 Major Moves To Make Money–If Brands Don’t Kill It First
[Image: Flickr user Windiepink]

With the tweet-heavy World Cup as a glittery background, Twitter is looking for ways to cash in. Big time.


In the last day alone, the company released a “buy now” button accompanying tweets, rolled out a new ad unit on its mobile app, snapped up yet another mobile ad company, and named a new chief financial officer.

Steering Twitter to solid financials–and perhaps, one day, profitability–is Anthony Noto, a managing director at Goldman Sachs who will receive 1.5 million shares of common stock and a $250,000 annual salary. Former CFO Mike Gupta will assume the role of senior vice president of strategic investments.

The discovery of a “buy now” button on the social network would close the loop for Twitter commerce. Spotted by Re/code, the button doesn’t appear to be functional yet, but it points to an emerging pillar of Twitter’s monetization strategy. The company did, however, formally roll out app-install ads on Monday, a promising ad unit that lets users download third-party apps directly from Twitter’s mobile app. To give a sense of its potential, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called it the best-performing ad product for his company, driving more than 350 million app installs to date.

As Twitter continues ramping up its ad products, it also announced the acquisition of its latest ad-tech startup. TapCommerce, which focuses on delivering retargeted ads based on people’s browsing history, will join mobile ad exchange MoPub, purchased in September, and native ad company Namo Media, acquired in June. At Twitter’s last earnings call, CEO Dick Costolo said MoPub reached more than 1 billion Android and iOS users.

Meanwhile, in all the excitement, brands have done their best to ruin both Twitter and the World Cup–a high-profile live event it has been bracing for after endless fail whales showed up four years ago. Soon after the U.S. beat Ghana, Delta Air Lines tweeted a celebratory photo (since removed) with the final score overlaid on images that represent each country: the Statue of Liberty for the U.S. and the silhouette of a giraffe at sunset for Ghana.

Aside from sweeping generalizations of Africa, the big problem with the photo was that giraffes don’t live in Ghana. Ahead of the U.S. vs. Belgian game Tuesday, Waffle House took to Twitter with a silly campaign calling for a boycott on Belgian waffles. And let’s not forget all the brands that tried to capitalize on the controversy surrounding Luis Suarez, Uruguay’s forward and resident biter. Call it the Oreo-ization of Twitter.

Update 7/1/2014 3:04pm: Twitter also announced Tuesday a new analytics tool for Vine that shows how many times a video has been looped–a signal that Vine could become a platform for advertisers to target consumers.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.