If you're not a Twitter user, you might start seeing more Tweets online anyway. The social media company has struck a deal with Google, giving the search engine access to Twitter’s so-called firehose of data, according to Bloomberg. That will make it easier for tweets to show up in Google's search results.
If this sounds familiar, the deal is a flashback to one that fell apart several years ago.
“Twitter is looking for ways to drive user growth,” says Brian Wieser, an analyst with Pivotal Research. That growth has been sluggish, he says, and investors are getting impatient. Late Thursday, Twitter reported that it added just 4 million active monthly users in the fourth quarter of last year, for a total of 288 million.
Twitter wants to extend the reach of its tweets, Wieser says, “and create the conditions for enhanced monetization in the future.”
Translation: the company wants to sell those new users to advertisers. In its earnings announcement, Twitter said it brought in $432 million from advertising in the fourth quarter, up 97 percent from the previous year.
As for Google, “they want data, first and foremost,” says Wieser, and Twitter’s active users generate a lot of data. Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing already have direct access to that content.
Tweets still show up in Google searches, even after the company's deal with Twitter fell apart in 2011, according to Danny Sullivan, founding editor of the online news site Search Engine Land. Without a new deal, Google just can’t keep up, he says.
“Without that access to the firehose directly, it is literally like Google’s trying to lean in on the side and take a drink, and you just can’t do it,” Wieser says.
So what do Google users get out of it? Twitter works especially well as a breaking-news feed. The traditional sources Google relies on, he says, may lag by several minutes.
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