Twitter’s second-quarter earnings showed on Thursday (July 23) that the social media giant’s user base continued to grow even as its ad revenues declined, as advertisers redeployed their marketing budgets in response to the lengthy global pandemic.
Average monetizable daily users (mDAU) expanded to 186 million at the quarter’s end, up from 166 million at the first quarter’s close. They also grew 34 percent over the number of mDAUs at the same point a year earlier – the highest year-on-year growth since the firm began tracking that metric.
In its letter to shareholders, Twitter attributed the gains to consumers redefining their social lives during the pandemic period.
“The year-over-year increase in mDAU was primarily driven by external factors such as continued shelter-in-place requirements for many people and increased global conversation around the COVID-19 pandemic and other current events,” the company wrote. “Our work to serve the conversation around COVID-19, to help people find trusted sources of information, to better organize and surface the many topics and interests that bring people to Twitter, and innovations such as virtual watch parties for movie launches and virtual concerts, helped us serve our larger audience.”
But while Twitter’s user base grew during the quarter, its revenue stream was shrinking, coming in at $683 million, down 19 percent year on year. The biggest hit came from ad revenues, which fell 23 percent year over year to $562 million.
The firm said in a statement that after falling in the first quarter, ad revenues had begun to recover, “with the exception of late May to mid-June, when many brands slowed or paused spend in reaction to U.S. civil unrest. During the last three weeks of June, advertising revenue declined 15 percent year over year. Demand gradually improved once brands returned after the protests subsided.”
Twitter CFO Ned Segal further noted that the company has completed an ad server rebuild and is making progress accelerating a performance ads roadmap.
“With a larger audience and progress in ads, we are even better positioned to deliver for advertisers when the live events and product launches that bring many people and advertisers to Twitter return to our lives,” he said.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also addressed the platform’s security efforts following a massive hack that saw cybercriminals cleverly take over many celebrities’ Twitter accounts and scam some of their followers into making bitcoin payments.
“We moved quickly to address what happened and have taken additional steps to improve resiliency against targeted social engineering attempts, implemented numerous safeguards to improve the security of our internal systems and are working with law enforcement,” Dorsey said. “We understand our responsibilities and are committed to earning the trust of all of our stakeholders with our every action, including how we address this security issue. We will continue to be transparent in sharing our learnings and remediations.”