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World Cup Delivers a Big Win for Twitter

Company Reports $277 Million in Ad Revenue, Adds 16 Million Active Users

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It looks like Twitter's bet on the World Cup games paid off.

In its second quarter earnings, the company reported $312 million in revenue, a 124% year-on-year increase, with 89% attributed to advertising. Mobile accounted for 81% of advertising revenue.

More importantly, Twitter may have silenced the escalating concerns over its user growth slump. During the quarter, the service added 16 million monthly active users, reaching 271 million worldwide as of June 30.

That increase was slightly below the first quarter, which registered 25% annual growth. But analysts had expected Twitter to post second quarter revenue of $283 million and monthly active users totals ranging from 263 million to 267 million.

Twitter poured tremendous resources into the World Cup, which began in June, adding a slew of new features tailored to the games, in an effort to rope in new users. It even tapped an agency to promote the platform, gunning for emerging markets, like Brazil and Indonesia, where interest in the event -- and Twitter's potential for growth -- run high.

"We remain focused on driving increased user growth and engagement," CEO Dick Costolo said in a statement, "and by developing new product experiences, like the one we built around the World Cup, we believe we can extend Twitter's appeal to an even broader audience."

International revenue during the quarter reached $102 million, a 168% increase.

Mr. Costolo kicked off the earnings call with lavish praise for his company's efforts around the global games. "During the World Cup, we delivered the kind of events experience that I've wanted to see from us for some time," he said.

Twitter, he added, was "the world's real-time information network."

Later in the call, however, Mr. Costolo downplayed the role of the event in bolstering user growth. "The World Cup experiences drove increased engagement from our existing users," he said. "It's been the product changes over the past year that have driven growth."

The company's other key metric, "timeline views" -- the frequency with which users refresh their streams -- rose to 173 billion, netting $1.60 in advertising revenue per thousand views, a 100% annual increase.

Twitter executives also dived into another topic surfaced during the World Cup games: the people who see Twitter content, but aren't registered users. An earlier report said Twitter would present investors new metrics to measure this audience. While the company did not, the executives teased some future product changes.

"Twitter is everywhere," Mr. Costolo said. He claimed this audience was "two to three times" larger than the monthly active user numbers. And he noted that the company was experimenting with ways to "improve the content" for the visitors who are not logged into the platform.

Still, Mr. Costolo insisted that ad products are not being sold or considered to reach these visitors. "We are focused one-hundred percent on the user experience today," he said. "We're not monetizing those audiences."

The executives addressed Twitter's nascent e-commerce plans briefly, offering scant details.

Anthony Noto, the former Goldman Sachs banker who joined as Twitter's CFO on July 1, was an active voice on the earnings call. He noted the importance of MoPub, its mobile-ad exchange, and TapCommerce, a recently acquired mobile-app ad company, in stretching Twitter's reach across the platforms outside of Twitter.

The results are a pleasant turn for the young public company, arriving after a tumultous three months that saw the departure of multiple top executives, including the COO. Although advertisers are pleased with the platform, particularly its potential for real-time marketing, they remained concerned with lackluster user growth.

Twitter's stock shot up nearly 34% in after-hours trading.

Contributing: Tim Peterson

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