Faaez Samadi
May 15, 2017

Twitter hasn't missed a beat in APAC, says new chief

Maya Hari says APAC continues to be the social network’s growth engine, and things are continuing full steam following the recent departure of former head Aliza Knox.

Maya Hari
Maya Hari

Formerly Twitter head of Southeast Asia and India, Maya Hari last month took on the top job at Twitter APAC as managing director after Aliza Knox became the latest senior executive to leave the company. Campaign Asia-Pacific sat down with Hari to discuss the transition, and what her plans are for Twitter APAC.

How are you finding the new role? How has it been since Aliza left?

It’s been a very interesting and fun few weeks. I’m not a stranger to Twitter, it’s been two-and-a-half years. The first two years I was focused on product strategy and monetisation, then last November I took on the role to head India and Southeast Asia, which is a good way to ease into this role.

It’s great times; we’re really the growth engine here in APAC. Aliza and I worked very closely together. We made sure the transition was very seamless. We’ve not missed a beat. Our teams are continuing to do great work. 

You announced your earnings for Q1 2017, which beat expectations but saw Twitter’s first year-on-year decline in terms of revenue growth. What is your response to this?

Our APAC revenue (including Japan) grew over 20 times faster than the international revenue growth rate in Q1. In fact, Greater China [focused on export advertising] was the fastest-growing revenue market worldwide last quarter. We believe that executing on our plan and growing our audience should result in positive revenue growth over the long-term.

As we’ve said before, audience growth is a leading indicator for revenue growth, and our monthly active users increased by 9 million quarter-on-quarter. Daily active users increased by 14 percent, which is the fourth consecutive quarter of accelerating daily usage.

More importantly, we’ve also seen higher ROI for advertisers—with APAC seeing an even greater ROI improvement than the 60 percent year-over-year decrease globally in cost per ad engagement (CPE) in Q1 2017.

Does video remain the core of Twitter’s global strategy?

It’s been our strategy to bring more video content, particularly live, to support this positioning of Twitter being a place where you see what’s happening around the world. We’re bringing better selection, making it faster, being more personalised and doing it in a way that drives more conversation.

We followed this up with our recent announcement of 16 different live video streaming partnerships across sports, news and entertainment, including Bloomberg, BuzzFeed, WNBA and the PGA.

How are these global video partnerships relevant to APAC?

It’s a great opportunity to bring some of that premium content to APAC. In fact, if you look at the last quarter, we had 800 hours of programming globally that we put together with live video, and 60 percent of the unique audience—around 45 million—was outside the US. That’s a continued growth trend that we’re seeing.

Our strategy in APAC is to bring a solid programming calendar of live and video premium content to our users. This would be a good combination of global content that’s relevant, but we’re also very focused on supplementing and bolstering that with local partnerships.

We currently have more than 16 live Amplify deals across APAC. Some global examples that we are selling in the region include Arsenal FC and PGA, but local examples include Femina Miss India and ICC Champions Trophy for India, AFL for Australia, and Liga Satu for Indonesia.

We’ve had really strong partnerships with Seven Network and ABC in Australia,  or even ABS-CBN or GMA in the Philippines. The idea is our APAC consumers would have the benefit of being able to see what’s happening globally and locally, through a format they love and consume, which is video and particularly live video.

Where are you seeing Twitter’s biggest growth in APAC?

We have the largest region both in audience growth and revenue growth. If you take the audience side, APAC grew its monthly active user base twice as fast as our global audience.

Japan, India and Indonesia continue to be our largest audience markets globally, but you also have Korea, the Philippines and Singapore that are fast-growing markets in the region. So it’s a really good mix. India was the fastest growing daily audience market in Q1.

Australia has always been a market where we see ground-breaking innovation on the revenue side, and they continued to see amazing ROI improvements as well.

Can you talk more about what Twitter is doing to drive ROI for advertisers?

Product and platform enhancements we’ve made have driven better pricing [for advertisers]. Audience growth also helped. We’ve talked to a number of advertising partners and their agencies and the feedback has been overwhelmingly that there’s an interest to continue to invest in the platform.

What’s interesting is that it’s also driven a lot by the creative format of choice, which is video. It’s driven the largest proportion of our revenue for over a year now consistently. If you look at marketers, all they want is video.

They want to continue investing in video and they see Twitter audiences coming to Twitter with a discovery mindset, which is really the big differentiator for us. That mindset leads our users to being more engaged on the platform versus an average digital platform. That’s essentially what excites our marketers.

Twitter has also launched Twitter Lite for emerging markets, presumably with APAC in mind? 

We’re continuing to funnel growth in APAC emerging markets. The idea from a product perspective was to take away all the barriers—connectivity, access, infrastructure, cost of data, size and capacity of your phone—and give a mobile web experience that also allows an app-like experience for Android users.

It’s 30 percent faster, 70 percent cheaper in terms of data consumption, and you can fit it in less than 1MB on your phone. We did the global launch in India, partnering with Vodafone, and with Indosat in Indonesia. It’s the first of much more that we aim to do in emerging markets.

Is it set up for advertising?

It’s enabled for advertising but that’s not the core priority. 

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