Faaez Samadi
Jun 13, 2018

Twitter ready to kick off global World Cup conversation

Maya Hari says the platform is primed for football fever through new content partnerships and its position as “the world’s 24/7 sports bar”.

The World Cup trophy and official ball in front of Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, where the final will be played on 15 July.
The World Cup trophy and official ball in front of Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, where the final will be played on 15 July.

Twitter is no stranger to the frenzy and fandom around the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Russia in two days.

Maya Hari, Twitter's Asia-Pacific MD and Business Leader of the Year at the 2018 Women Leading Change Awards, tells Campaign Asia-Pacific that for all the momentous occasions, events, scandals and news that play out on Twitter, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was the platform’s largest conversation to date by volume.

“At Twitter we know sport works really well on the platform, and football is one of the few global sports,” she says.

Hari recently announced six new content partnerships across the region with its biggest football broadcasters, all of whom are obviously showing the World Cup: Astro in Malaysia, ABS-CBN in the Philippines, Elta TV in Taiwan, NHK in Japan, SBS in Australia and FMA in Indonesia.

All partners will be producing exclusive World Cup content for Twitter, including video highlights packages. “We think it is a massive opportunity for advertisers to get in on that conversation, and we are partnering to bring high-quality content that’s highly curated from very trustworthy, credible sources,” she explains.

The move builds on the dozens of content partnerships Twitter has brought to APAC advertisers over the past 18 months. Hari says 30 more deals are now active in the region, including the likes of Formula One, Viacom and NBCUniversal.

Twitter recently posted two consecutive quarters of profit for the first time, and Hari says that reflects that advertisers are keen for these content partnerships on the platform. In APAC specifically, she explains, Japan now accounts for a sizeable 18% of global revenue, and that Twitter’s Greater China export advertising business continues to grow rapidly.

Maya Hari speaking at Twitter's first Brand Summit in Beijing earlier this year

But the World Cup deals in particular, she says, resonate strongly with Twitter’s mission to be part of the world’s leading moments and conversations, and to be a platform for others to gather on during these occasions.

“Recently someone phrased this very well: Twitter is the sports bar that remains open 24/7,” Hari states. “It touches on community building, the global conversation about the game, the players, the tournament, and it’s always on, in real time. It’s consistent with our strategy to be part of the biggest events and moments in sport.”

The community aspect of Twitter is also well-known to be its biggest issue, with trolls and fake news being a constant problem. Hari says solving this remains a top priority, and that Twitter’s framework around promoting “healthy conversations” is continuously improving.

Using technology, machine learning, human reviewers and now behavioural signals in some test markets, Hari says recent results show a 4% drop in abuse reports from search and an 8% fall in abuse reports from conversations. “We’re encouraged by the results we’ve seen so far, but also recognise that this is just one step on a much longer journey to improve the overall health of our service and your experience on it,” she reiterates.

To that end, she hopes more people, and especially around the World Cup, will enjoy experiences similar to an anecdote she shares.

“I have a friend who watches football games sometimes in the middle of the night, by himself in his house," she says. "He’s alone on the couch, and he can’t celebrate [a goal] because he’ll wake up his wife, his kids. So he tweets, and that whole community is with him. He doesn’t feel alone on the couch at 2 am anymore.”

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