Twitter Entices Business Customers with 'Search Tweets API'
Twitter is predominantly an advertising company, but it also sells data. Now, Twitter is trying to come up with ways to sell more data to offset the fact that its advertising business is shrinking.
Some businesses pay Twitter thousands of dollars per year for what Twitter calls "enterprise APIs" or access to additional information about people's tweets. This can include a searchable archive of tweets, which might help a brand or advertiser do everything from understand how people perceive their brand online, to know more about when and where their customers usually post.
Data licensing made up roughly $87 million of Twitter's revenue last quarter, or about 15 percent of the company's business. A year ago, data sales represented 11.5 percent. Considering that Twitter's total business is shrinking, data licensing has been one of the company's bright spots.
Now Twitter is trying to entice more customers by offering some of this data at a discount. On Tuesday, Twitter announced a new version of its "search tweets API," or the data set that includes a searchable database of user posts.
Twitter will sell access to 30 days' worth of tweets for as little as $149 per month. Twitter's current offerings include free access to seven days worth of tweets, or buying the entire historical archive for thousands of dollars per year.
Twitter believes there is a market somewhere in the middle, and wants to offer a version of its API to customers who might be willing to pay $149 (or more), but don't need a data package worth thousands. That means "new revenue opportunities," explained Rob Johnson, Twitter's head of data products, to a group of reporters this week.
Even though Twitter generates tens of millions of dollars through data licensing, many people Recode has spoken to over the years believe that Twitter's data business has been an overlooked opportunity. In 2014, Twitter bought Gnip, a startup that was already licensed to resell Twitter data, but the company has never fully capitalized on its trove of real-time information. Twitter's developer business has also taken a hit over the past year. Twitter canceled its annual developer conference last year, then sold most of its developer business to Google as part of an effort to cut costs.
Now Twitter is realizing that selling data good be a good way to offset its shrinking advertising revenue. Johnson told reporters this week that providing a middle-of-the-road version of its search API is just the beginning, and that Twitter plans to roll out "many more" cheaper versions of some of its other expensive data APIs soon.
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