Twitter's CFO wants us to completely rethink the metrics we use for Twitter

Anthony Noto. Photo: Brian Ach / Getty Images

Twitter CFO Anthony Noto believes Twitter’s audience might be bigger than Facebook’s 1.5 billion users, “depending how you look at it.”

Noto was speaking at the Deutsche Bank AG technology conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday when he challenged the traditional notion of metrics reporting among social networks and other platforms.

“Twitter has a much bigger audience if you consider those who view tweets without logging into Twitter, or who get to tweets through Web search engines or see the 140-character postings on news sites and on television,” Noto said.

According to Bloomberg, Noto added, “[Facebook] only have that 1.4 billion to report — there’s no other number. We have other audience numbers that no one talks about. If you add them up, it’s a big number. In fact, in some scenarios, you could argue that it’s bigger.”

Noto’s assertion isn’t really a new concept, magazine publishers for years have sold advertising based on the reach of their publications. For example, Sports Illustrated will argue that millions of readers pick up its magazine in doctor’s offices and other waiting areas. Those readers may not subscribe to Sports Illustrated, but they read the magazine and engage with its stories, pictures, and ultimately its ads.

Unlike traditional media, Twitter doesn’t earn money by estimating how many people see its Tweets. If a search engine displays a tweet or a message appears on the nightly news, Twitter earns no monetary reward for those messages. While it may be great for brand recognition, the value of those messages is limited and so are the views created from third-party mediums.

Noto further mentions that Facebook updates “don’t usually appear elsewhere” because of the private nature of the network. That may be true, however, a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers by Acquity Group, part of Accenture Interactive, found that Facebook posts lead the way in trusted content — ahead of newspapers, emails, television, news or special interest websites. Facebook users simply trust their friends status updates more than they trust a stranger on Twitter.

For its part Twitter has made moves over the last several years to strengthen its third-party monetisation. The company recently announced that it was extending its partnership with Bloomberg. The social network helps traders more quickly uncover financial shifts via Bloomberg terminals. The company has also developed outside partnerships with Nielsen ratings and various other technology-based firms. By capturing tweet views, retweets, direct messages, and other user and non-user data, the company will likely continue to find non-ad based revenue streams that turn around the company’s recent poor stock performance.

A rep from Twitter said it has nothing to add at this time.

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