Twitter has signed a deal with Google to allow the tech giant to index the firehose of all tweets. Google had previously been able to index tweets until 2011 when it launched Google+, the struggling social network, which was then a putative competitor to Twitter. In 2011 Twitter didn’t really have as clear a view of its strengths and challenges, and Google believed it could build a great social network. Time has moved on. And this deal appears to be a licensing deal that gives Twitter revenue and, of course, traffic; and it gives Google really valuable time-sensitive content it can index to super-serve its users and put ads against.
This is massive for Twitter, giving it wider distribution than Facebook. It is pretty important for Google too.
The details aren’t clear yet, but it seems Google will be paying to license the full Twitter firehose to index tweets in near real time, something that previously only the Apple-acquired Topsy was doing well. The scuttlebutt is that there is no ad-revenue split, and typically the firehose has not included promoted tweets (unless they had previously been posted as regular tweets).
What Google gets
The search engine gets access to the real-time pulse of the world — as Twitter remains the only place where you can connect with smart, influential people on the things you care about. While Twitter is smaller than Instagram and Facebook in terms of active users, it remains the place where news breaks and the zeitgeist is mulled. There are no signs of Twitter relinquishing this coveted spot anytime soon.
Whatever it is — breaking news, celebrity faux pas, brand snark — it happens first on Twitter. This is the one reason Twitter has become the darling social platform of news and media organizations. This Twitter deal provides Google with more than 500 million fresh snippets of zeitgeist per day.
While the exact commercial details aren’t known, it should also provide Google an opportunity to monetize AdWords inventory against real-time cultural or consumer needs.
What Twitter gets
With more than 4 billion searches per day on Google and more than 1 billion people a month accessing its search engine, Twitter gets a chance to expose its user content to an audience that is bigger than even Facebook. Exposure leads to cracking Twitter’s user growth problem and ultimately providing more eyeballs for its increasingly effective advertising machine.
This will ultimately drive user acquisition for Twitter, whose growth rate seems to have stalled in recent months.
It may also overcome the “now what” problem that Twitter users have faced with signing up. Users searching on Google may be shown a tweet relevant to their search, so when they land on Twitter via a Google search it has already solved a problem for them. Coupled with Twitter’s new instant timeline capability, these have a chance of dramatically adjusting the dynamics of user growth in Twitter’s favor.
The enemy of my enemies
Facebook gets renewed competition from Twitter and Google. Google gets more real-time relevance. And Twitter gets a chance to grow its audience and steal attention from the behemoth social network.
And don’t forget Apple, Google’s other foe, whose acquisition of Topsy last year bought it the best real-time social index: Apple controls attention through its iOS platform defaults, and its search deal with Google is expiring soon. Closer ties between Google and Twitter can only help Google’s competition with the device maker.
Ultimately, this deal will benefit both Google, Twitter, and their combined users — at a cost to Facebook and Apple.
Azeem Azhar (@azeem) is the Evangelist at Brandwatch, the world’s leading social listening platform. He was previously founder of PeerIndex which was acquired by Brandwatch in December 2014. He blogs at azm.io/azeemblog