Twitter is on a charm offensive in Asia-Pacific to tap into the growing proportion of millennials and internet newcomers in the region.
Global head of client solutions Sarah Personette, who is responsible for managing all major brands and advertisers on the platform, is in the midst of an Asia-Pacific roadshow to uncover additional revenue streams in the region.
Personette spoke to Campaign Asia-Pacific in Singapore, the third stop of her tour. Having already visited Tokyo and Sydney, she intends to cover the rest of the market over the next few months. Personette wants to "build empathy and understanding" in the region by listening to what makes local brands and publishers tick.
Her objective in the region is twofold: support the growth of communities and conversations on the platform through relevant media partnerships and help connect brands with relevant audiences. China is the only region for which it is solely focused on revenue growth.
She described Asia-Pacific as a "huge growth engine" for Twitter, with an ad revenue growth rate similar to that in the US.
Twitter made a solid start to the year with revenue up 18% year on year to $787m in the first quarter, beating analyst expectations. It also reported an 11% increase in its monetisable daily active users (mDAUs, a new metric that reports users that are able to show ads).
The platform does not break down results by region, but Personette claimed that Asia-Pacific made a "huge contribution" to Twitter’s revenue and audience growth in the quarter, naming Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand as the fastest-growing markets. Japan is Twitter’s largest market outside the US.
"That is one of the reasons I am here," she said. "If we look at the fact that the majority of the millennial population will sit in high-growth urban markets – many of which are in APAC – coupled with internet connectivity trends, then the region represents a growing opportunity."
According to Twitter, half of all internet (47%), mobile (48%) and social media users (52%) worldwide are located in Asia-Pacific, while 60% of millennials (aged 18 to 35) worldwide will reside in Asia by 2020.
Key cultural trends and moments are also driving growth in the region, such as K-pop, which generated 5.3 billion tweets in 2018, and the swearing in of Emperor Naruhito in Japan.
Religious festivals are big conversation drivers in the region, with 10.5 million tweets relating to Ramadan in April from Indonesia alone.
Meanwhile, in sports, the Indian Premier League generated 27 million tweets over the 2019 cricket season, representing a 44% jump on the previous year, while One Championship’s mixed martial arts videos have grown average views from 2.3 million to 4.3 million between 2018 to 2019.
Picking video partners
Increased internet coverage in Asia-Pacific developing markets is also driving growth in video consumption. A recent eMarketer report on digital video viewers indicated that in key Asia-Pacific markets viewers will grow to well over a billion by 2020.
Video is Twitter’s biggest growth area, representing more than half of Twitter’s total advertising revenue. Globally, the video strategy is focused on three content pillars, entertainment, news and sports, which are the biggest drivers of conversation on Twitter.
The platform then looks for micro-communities within the genres that are region-specific, such as mixed martial arts in south-east Asia, to build partnerships.
Twitter has about 60 video content partnerships in the region, including with the Seven Network in Australia, the Indian Premier League and Network18 in India and DAZN in Thailand to live-stream Champions League play-off matches.
It has become more prescriptive about its video strategy over the past few years, positioning itself as a partner rather than a competitor.
"We are different from any other tech platform in that respect," Personette said. "We deeply care about our partners and making sure they can monetise, while providing scaled premium video inventory that brands can appear in front of."
A Facebook alumna, Personette said the real-time and public nature of the platform is what sets it out from its rivals.
"As a result, we tend to be oriented around topics, interests and events that occur around the world," she said. "It is a very different position from the Facebooks and Instagrams of the world."
For brands, Twiter offers a range of video advertising products, including the Video Website Card and Video App Card – formats that pair an autoplay video with a website link or app – plus in-stream video sponsorships and pre-roll ads.
While it has been rumoured that, as Twitter expands its premium video partnerships, it could migrate video from the feed into a separate hub, similar to Facebook Watch, Personette said she was "unaware of any plans or updates" to do so.
Personette joined Twitter from Refinery29 in October 2018 and said the three most common requests she receives from clients are how to launch a brand in a highly fragmented media ecosystem, how to remain culturally relevant and how to lean in to brand purpose.
"Twitter as a platform moves at the speed of conversation," she said. "Our capability is around connecting people to what is happening and we can connect that to brand ethos too.
"Helping brands launch something new and connect to what is happening is where we find our sweet spot in driving the best business results for marketers globally."
A vesion of this story first appeared on Camaign Asia-Pacific