Back in 2008, a contentious election cycle was underway and two frontrunners captivated mainstream America and saturated the media. Companies left and right jumped on the election bandwagon, and ad revenue soared. All, that is, except for Twitter. Twitter is the quintessentially odd-man out in the realm of social media companies. With a user base 20% of that of Facebook, but generating only 10% of Facebook’s revenue, Twitter has had a difficult time commercializing on the success of their platform.
So in 2008, it could be argued Twitter beta tested what would come to be known as Project Lightning. The Project Lightning is an event-based content platform within Twitter’s own existing platform. Instead of being presented information as you are now, by people you follow and hashtags you click on, you will be given the option of going to a separate area altogether on your mobile app. Once you click through, you will be presented with event and location based tweets, vines, periscope videos, among any other media form Twitter manages to cram in there.
So why push for event-based media? According to Twitter, they can deliver an enhanced user experience that will allow people to gain exposure to a wider variety of events occurring in the world, ranging from sporting events to terror attacks and political elections, among a vast array of others. Since Twitter intends this to be editorial based content, crafted not by algorithms, but rather by users, they will most likely feature around ten of these event-based presentations per day to users. Instead of presenting the content as Twitter normally does, it will be presented full-screen, requiring users to swipe the content away to see new content. This will continue until the end of the presentation has been reached.
Ok, so Twitter has managed to create a Tinder like feel for user driven data, but to what end? Revenue. Snapchat has a similar content feature to Twitter’s Project Lightning that has already been in place for several years. The ad revenue generated from that platform is around six figures per ad. So for Twitter, Project Lightning is a dual use tool. It allows them to potentially generate an obscene amount of revenue from event-based content, but it also allows them to provide meaningful data to their user base. This, in theory, should allow for Twitter to grow their user base, and in turn, their revenue yet again.
Twitters push to generate more ad revenue is hardly new for a company, but it does raise the question of the kinds of content that will be allowed to make it onto the Project Lightning platform. Since its intention is to produce ad revenue for Twitter, it’s conceivable that Twitter is turning away from a free expression of ideas into more of a corporate mouthpiece. I suppose the answer to that will be seen in a few months when it launches.
Bloomberg: ‘Project Lightning’: Is Twitter Simplifying Its Content?
Photo credit: Twitter