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We deeply care about misinformation and people who talk about it online: Taranjeet Singh

28-May-2018
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We deeply care about misinformation and people who talk about it online: Taranjeet Singh

There is no doubt that India has become the big driver of growth when it comes to major social media platforms. The sheer amount of conversations and engagement on social media has made it an ideal platform for brands to find their potential customers.

Twitter has seen phenomenal growth in numbers in India in the last few years. With the company recording strong growth in its revenues, and India playing a significant role in it, the focus on the region has become more pronounced than ever before.

In an interview with exchange4media, Taranjeet Singh, Country Director, Twitter India, spoke about the growing clout of the Indian operations and how Twitter is leveraging this unique opportunity, and also about dealing with some unique challenges that this market presents.
Excerpts:

Globally, Twitter's ad revenue increased 21 per cent year-over-year (YoY) in Q1 2018. What is Twitter India's growth trajectory been like over the last quarter? How is India contributing to the overall growth of Twitter?

Q1 has been a great quarter for the company globally. Our revenues grew by 21 per cent YoY, what we also saw was 10 per cent growth in our Daily Active Users (DAUs). India is undoubtedly a key market for us and we continue to grow. We are one of the fastest growing markets in the world and it will continue to remain a high potential, high promising market.

In the Q1 earnings, Ned Segal, CFO, Twitter, noted that ad engagements on Twitter were up by 69 per cent. Does the same hold true for India?

Twitter in India is across the country. We are seeing massive amounts of conversations across moments which matter. Whether it is entertainment, sports, news, politics there is huge amount of audience growth and engagement that is happening. What is really interesting to see is that we have been able to improve cost per engagement for our advertiser’s massively, and what we are becoming a far more efficient platform for our brands and for our advertisers. Videos contributed to 50 per cent of our revenue globally and video is one of our fastest growing products. In India we have seen a huge amount of traction. I would say it’s a great time to be at Twitter.

What's the kind of interest you are seeing from brands in video ads on Twitter? What percentage of Twitter India's ad revenue comes from video ads?

Video is growing across the world including India, and video is of our fastest growing ad unit. We are witnessing a huge amount of traction. As a company also we have been investing a lot towards building and making efficient video products for our advertisers. We are focusing on bringing in the right live content, more premium video partnerships with our premium publishers. If you look at the overall ecosystem from an audience point of view; today India is a young country with 50 per cent population below the age of 25. So you are talking about millennials and Gen Z, these are audiences who are mobile first. Now the way the overall ecosystem in the country is growing - the telecom revolution happening and given that India has the lowest data cost and amazing 4G network speed across the country, video as a consumption will go even higher. If you look at the audience behavior from a millennial point of view, mobile is the first screen. Moreover, we are ensuring a brand safe environment on the premium video content with the publishers we are tying up with, and that is the big strength of what Twitter brings to the table.

Which are the revenue streams that are seeing growth and adoption in India?

It is in line with our global trends. What is really important for us right now is to invest in educating brands and advertising agencies and our partners about the efficiency with which they can use the platform. Twitter is an amazing medium and every platform has its core strength. If you look today the news breaks on Twitter first. Whether it is entertainment, sports, news, politics; all sorts of content or moments first pan out on Twitter and then travel outside. If you look at how users come in, it’s a very linear experience. They are coming in to discover what is happening in the world, in their country or city, and for a brand this presents a very powerful proposition and platform to associate with. Once you use this power of the medium, your content gets better traction and your ads get better engagement.

Twitter has a unique role because of its --in-the-moment engagement. So, if any advertiser or brand wants to reach out to an audience which is engaged, Twitter is the best place to do it. We are constantly investing in working with our key partners, key clients, agency partners to help them and their teams understand how they should be looking at Twitter. What are the kind of content strategies they should be thinking of, how each Twitter product works and how to build efficiency? Our focus is not be a transactional medium where somebody just comes and buys media. As an organization our focus is to build strategic partnerships by helping businesses achieve their business KPIs.

How many MAUs and DAUs does Twitter have currently in India? What has been the YoY growth from Q1 2017?

I would say India is one of the fastest growing markets for us globally, and it’s a no surprise for us. And Twitter being the platform where news breaks first, we play a very important role in the pop-culture of this country. So definitely we are seeing a huge amount of growth, and India as I said, continues to be our fastest growing market.

As election season is here, what are the precautions Twitter is taking in India to prevent the spread of Fake News?

Fake news has become like a catchphrase. We deeply care about misinformation and people who are talking about it online. As a platform, we feel that no single actor should be the arbiter of truth. What we are doing is partnering with right agencies and media organizations and verifying the right political candidates so people know who to follow or who is the right person they should be getting information from. Safety for us is a big initiative and in the last 18 months we have made almost 30 changes to our products.

Safety is definitely number one priority for us. During the recent Karnataka elections, we saw around five million Tweets around the election and the conversations continue to grow. Twitter is where things happen, and what we encourage people coming and having a healthy debate, share their point of views and be part of the conversation. We are also partnering with law enforcement agencies, election commission and regulators, and we are verifying and building capacity with political organizations to ensure that people know who the right candidate is. We are also partnering with news and other media organizations to use the platform in a credible way and making sure their content is available. What we are also doing is enabling hash tags, not just in English, but in various Indic languages. We are also fighting hard against malicious accounts, especially the ones who try to spam the system and we are putting processes and policies in place to ensure that we do our bit.

What has the IPL season meant for Twitter this year?

This T-20 league chatter happens on daily basis, every day the match between different teams are trending and people are having conversations on ball to ball basis. I would say it has become another big driver of engagement on Twitter.

Finally, what is Twitter India going to be presenting at Cannes this year?

At Cannes we always showcase the best of Twitter. If you look at last year, 75 percent of Cannes winners were Twitter campaigns. Twitter is now playing a big role in these awards because of these amazing campaigns’ that get highlighted and showcased. For us it is a great opportunity to meet our partners and showcase the best of what is happening at Twitter.

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