Twitter's User Growth Slows, Perhaps As A Result Of Spam Account Purges Ahead Of IPO

The number of people who access Twitter on a monthly basis increased 20% in the nine months from December 2012 to September 2013.

That means Twitter’s user base growth is decelerating. In the previous nine months from March to December 2012, its monthly active users or MAUs grew 43%.

Our estimates for Twitter’s users and audience growth rely on data from recent press reports, as well as past updates from Twitter itself.

According to unnamed sources reporting to All Things D, Twitter now has approximately 240 million monthly active users and is on pace to reach 260 million by year-end. That year-end number would translate to overall 30% year-over-year growth between 2012 and 2013.

Twitter employees have told reporters that CEO Dick Costolo set an internal goal of reaching 400 million MAUs by the end of 2013. That does not appear likely at this point.

The news on Twitter’s 240 million users came on the heels of Twitter filing for an IPO.

Investors are calling into question the growth of Twitter’s user base, which is roughly 1/5 the size of Facebook’s. One theory is that Twitter is purging itself of spammers, in an attempt to draw in more advertisers.

Analysts are perhaps too focused on raw audience numbers. Twitter’s core business is targeted mobile advertising, which doesn’t necessarily need humongous scale to thrive. With its recent acquisition of MoPub, Twitter is positioning itself as a go-to mobile ad platform. Brands are watching closely to see how the rise of mobile has affected the way people consume media — simultaneous mobile Twitter usage with TV watching is one example. Twitter has been savvy in its efforts to capitalise on these new media habits, and its ad business could reap the benefits.

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