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Twitter reveals daily users and its a mixed bag

On Thursday 7 February, Twitter revealed some interesting details about its user base and income in Q4 2018 earnings report. The social media platform also made a first by announcing not only the number of the site’s monthly users but also the figure for its “average monetizable daily active users (mDAU)”, users that will be of much greater interest to advertisers.

And those numbers, though not awful by any stretch may seem somewhat underwhelming. Twitter lists an mDAU figure of 126 million, up from 124 million in Q3. This positive surge is in stark comparison to the platform’s number of average monthly users which has dropped hugely to 321 million from 330 million the previous quarter. It is likely that Twitter will be playing up the daily increase as a strengthening of its core dedicated userbase rather than having the focus be put on the drastic dropoff in overall monthly users. In fact, the platform has said it will stop releasing monthly numbers altogether in the new year.

Yet, if these figures are correct, it still means that only around 39% of monthly users use Twitter on a daily basis, which is lower than might be anticipated. And as others have been ready to point out, 126 million daily users is a figure not only crushed by Facebook but even beaten by Snapchat – a platform understood to be on less than stable footing for several years – which was listed as having 186 daily users in Snap’s own Q4 earnings report.

Twitter’s report was able to show some encouraging bang-for-buck improvements of interest to advertisers. The platform’s ad revenue for Q4 totalled $791 million, an increase of 23% year-over-year. This also came with a healthy 33% increase in ad engagement and a 7% decrease in the cost per engagement.

“2018 is proof that our long-term strategy is working. Our efforts to improve health have delivered important results, and new product features like a single switch to move between latest and most relevant Tweets have been embraced by the people who use Twitter,” said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in an accompanying statement. “We enter this year confident that we will continue to deliver strong performance by focusing on making Twitter a healthier and more conversational service.”

However, Twitter’s total revenue estimates weren’t quite as cheery reading. While Q4 revenue totalled $909 million, the company made a rather conservative estimate of between $715-775 million for its Q1 2019 total earnings. It was this part of the announcement that likely caused share prices in the company to drop by 10%.

The question going forward remains; is the future for Twitter one of a more focused and valuable user base? Or is it just plain shrinking?

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