Twitter has poached Google's advertising research lead for the Americas to be its first-ever global head of research.
Jeffrey Graham worked at Google for the last year and a half but is a veteran of the agency world, having worked for Starcom MediaVest for three years as research lead on the Procter & Gamble business and later at Initiative as worldwide director of performance. In between, he had a two-year stint at the New York Times from 2007 to 2009 where he directed research on the business side, exploring new business models for the paper and sharing ad-performance and subscriber research with advertisers.
EMarketer predicts that Twitter will take in $545.2 million in revenue this year, but in order to cross over into the 10-figure threshold, it will likely need to articulate the value of its ad products in terms all media buyers are versed in, and that's where a research chief like Mr. Graham comes in. At Twitter, he says he'll focus on researching user behavior and communicating the value of the company's ad products and platform to brands and agencies, as well as showing them how to use Twitter data to improve the effectiveness of their advertising in other channels.
"I believe that [Twitter] data can really solve a lot of problems for marketers in understanding what media is working and why it's working in television," he said.
To that end, he noted that Twitter's recent acquisition of Bluefin Labs -- which built a business around a mostly Twitter-based analysis of social conversations for brands, agencies and media companies to shed light how their TV shows and ads were faring with target audiences -- would provide a "really unique data set."
Similar to how Facebook was pressed to demystify the value of a "like," Mr. Graham's team will be tasked with helping brands translate the engagement metrics Twitter has developed for its platform, such as retweets, into meaningful data. Twitter has already started making moves in this direction and announced a partnership with Nielsen in the fall to develop a new ratings metric to measure the total audience for social-TV activity on Twitter.
"We're all translating measurement into what the CEO and CMO care about, which is selling more stuff and making money," he said. "What we always need to understand, whether it's a retweet or a GRP, is how they connect to those business outcomes, so that's one of the No. 1 challenges for anybody in a role like mine."
The scope of Mr. Graham's Twitter role is worldwide, and the plan is to hire research managers and analysts to report up to him at Twitter's various offices, he said. (There are already about a dozen on his team in place.) He'll continue to be based in New York and will report to Twitter's VP-global brand strategy Joel Lunenfeld.
Twitter has been on a tear of hiring Google executives for its sales and business teams of late. In October it hired an agency relations chief, Matt Derella, who had previously overseen Google's relationship with Publicis. It also hired Google's former display ad sales lead, Richard Alfonsi, to lead its efforts with small and medium-sized advertisers last June.
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