|What the Twitter IPO Means For You|
|By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern)||Sep 13, 2013, 2:24 PM|
Twitter's announcement yesterday that it has filed for its IPO, or initial public offering, has prompted two types of responses.
The first comes from the investor or financial type who asks all the economic and valuation questions. The second response comes from the average Twitter user who asks some variation of "Uh, why do I care?" or "Does this matter to me?"
Similar to Facebook's IPO last year, the process of a social media company going public is a much bigger deal for Wall Street than the service's users, but that doesn't mean things won't change. There are two main areas where users can expect to see some adjustments to their beloved 140-character messaging service in the next coming months.
Yes, More Advertising When Facebook went public, potential investors were worried about its advertising revenue, especially on mobile devices. It will likely be the same for Twitter, which takes in an estimated $582.8 million a year in advertising.
Right now advertising appears in your Twitter stream through what the service calls sponsored tweets. Companies or Twitter account holders pay to promote tweets so they appear in users' streams and don't sink to the bottom.
There might be more of that sort of advertising or different types of ads headed to the service as the company begins to prove it can make money off its very engaged 200 million active users.
"The question on the minds of experts, investors and users alike is whether or not going public will force Twitter to increase revenue by injecting more ads into the stream. The answer is yes," Brian Solis, a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, told ABC News. However, Twitter's CEO Dick Costolo is focused on not allowing those ads to interrupt the user experience too much, Solis said.
Twitter Conversations New Blue Line Causing Many Twitter Users to Feel Blue
"Twitter ad sales will grow because Twitter will grow. With recent and upcoming acquisitions, Twitter will make its platform more approachable by big brands and small businesses alike," Solis said, while emphasizing that the company will "keep user experience at the forefront to protect the social chaos that defines Twitter's beloved stream." Other analysts that ABC News spoke to said the same thing about Twitter wanting to preserve the user experience it has worked so hard to maintain.
Mobile and User Experience Improvements Those same analysts also bring up the importance of mobile and the moves Twitter might make to its apps to keep its users engaged more on their phones and tablets. Just last week Twitter began testing an updated version its Android app and The New Yorker's Matt Buchanan reports that two new versions of the Twitter iPhone app are in development.
One of the key places Twitter will look to improve the mobile experience is in making the tweet stream less overwhelming and surfacing tweets that are more interesting to users. The company has already begun to do that with its "blue line." While many have complained about the addition, Twitter is hoping the line makes it easier for people to follow conversations happening on the service.
"Sometimes the tweet stream can get overwhelming," Debra Aho Williamson, a principal analyst at eMarketer, told ABC News. "Twitter has said it wants to do a better job at surfacing tweets that are relevant to you."
It remains to be seen whether that means with new tabs in an app or inserting tweets that it thinks you are interested in, but ultimately, experts say all of these things are likely to be top of mind for the San Francisco-based company as it preps for the Wall Street scrutiny.
"Anything they can do to improve the way that you use Twitter is going to be helpful," Aho Williamson said. "I can imagine as it works towards its IPO and improves the user experience, finding a way to slow down the fire hose and make it a meaningful experience for people will probably be important."
That "does this matter to me?" question, ultimately, depends on you. Twitter might gain more advertising and features, but the main premise -- communicating with others in no more than 140 characters -- isn't expected to change.