The exits in Twitter’s senior management who helped build the India business over years, signal the company’s co-founder and new CEO, Jack Dorsey’s, inclination to make significant changes in the way the domestic business is handled.
On Thursday, Parminder Singh, managing director of West Asia and north Africa or MENA/Southeast Asia/India, put in his papers.His resignation came two days after the company’s India head Rishi Jaitly quit.
The micro-blogging site has been struggling to generate ad revenues in India, unlike elsewhere in the world.
Some of the people who left wanted to make some changes to Twitter, which they thought would help in bringing in digital advertising revenue. “That would have changed Twitter’s identity – something that the board didn’t want,” said a person with knowledge of the matter.
According to Greyhound Research, the digital advertising market in India is currently around R7,000 crore – 75% of which is with Google and Facebook. Twitter, along with dozens of other digital advertising platforms such as InMobi, has struggled to get a share of the remaining 25% of the market. In fact, Twitter’s share of the ad wallet is in single-digits.
Though the breakup for ad revenue from social media in India was not available, digital ad agency Adlift estimates it to be around $250 million (R1,669 crore) – most of which is with Facebook.
“Twitter has one product they go to the market with, which is not enough. Facebook has 10 different formats. It is difficult to promote rich media on Twitter,” said Prashant Puri, CEO and co-founder of Adlift.
Twitter recently removed the 140-character limit for putting pictures, videos, quoted tweets and GIFs, in order to become more relevant for advertisers.
But the company is nowhere close to Facebook in targeted advertisement. “Take gender, location and age – Facebook is the only platform, not even Google, to have that kind of data. In mobile app advertisement, location gets the highest price-per-click,” Puri said.
Getting India right becomes more important for Twitter. According to data from San Francisco-based app intelligence firm App Annie, Twitter’s monthly active user base grew 35% in the country in September, compared to the previous month, while in the US it increased only 4%. Indians also spent 60% more time on the micro-blogging app in September.
Meanwhile, brands and advertisers have evolved.
“A network can be judged on two parameters: quality and quantity. Quality can be defined by the stickiness of the network, and the information that its users share. Facebook is miles ahead with Instagram, FB and Whatsapp,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and CEO of Greyhound Research.
A partner with a New York-based management consulting firm said: “The digital world is a brutally Darwinian where the failure rate is huge... If you can’t evolve the way local taste evolves, you are dead. Twitter has not found a way to engage with the user.”