We argued about three months ago that Twitter needs more drastic measures to revive its fortunes on The Low Down – Twitters Problem is not 140 vs 280 but failure to expand horizontally.

It seems investors confidence in the company has been generally improving lately:

We also believed that most people used Twitter mainly to consume news (or content in general), especially breaking news, than expressing themselves. To express themselves, there are a lot of social channels, including Instagram, Facebook and Snap – but to get news fast, Twitter (or micro-blogging in general) actually has an edge.

Therefore, Twitter’s decision last year to move its app from “Social Networking” to “News” categories in Stores actually made a lot of sense. Below are their rankings in three major markets: US, Saudi Arabia & Indonesia. It generally tops the charts.

What is particularly interesting here is that in Indonesia, five out of the six apps following Twitter on the “News & Magazines” Category in Google Play are copycats of Toutiao, a dominant algorithm-based news aggregator from China that is currently valuing itself at US$30 billion while seeking its next investment.

Babe was founded by a Malaysian Chinese who had lived in Beijing for many years, and is currently invested by Toutiao itself; Baca is also run by a Chinese team; UC News is affiliated to UC Web, a popular mobile browser acquired by Alibaba a few years ago; and Kurio is the only non-Chinese background team doing exactly the same.

And Twitter is ahead of all of them in Indonesia – and theoretically this means more active users and more screen time captured. At the same time, they should have more user data (since most users on Twitter are registered).

When we are building our ventures for Indonesia, the online marketing efforts (and spending) tend to always gravitate towards Facebook and Google, despite the wide availability of publishers, ad-exchanges and affiliates.

There is no reason why Twitter can’t get a bigger pie in the online ad space, especially with the Gold Rush by Chinese e-commerce, fintech and other mobile internet companies. At least it should do better than the Toutiao copycats.

That said, Toutiao is famous in China for aggressive, and even brainwashing, tactics. Twitter, as a listed US company, might be a bit more reserved in that aspect.

It is a balancing act.

Thanks for reading The Low Down, insight and inside knowledge from the team at Momentum Works. If you’d like to get in touch with us about any issues discussed in our blog, please drop us an email at hello@mworks.asia and let us know how we can help.

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