Twitter unveils new way to make money from your tweets

As Twitter Inc. struggles to turn its vast data trove into cash, the company on Tuesday unveiled a new, cheaper option for developers to tap into the fire hose of content on the microblogging platform.

Mining the billions of tweets moving through the platform every day—especially with the increased visibility President Donald Trump has given Twitter—should, in theory, be valuable for Twitter TWTR, -0.59%  and clients that want to harness that data. However, the company has had difficulty growing its data-licensing business into more than 10% to 15% of overall revenue.

A new tool for developers called Premium APIs could boost that revenue stream. It is designed to give small- and medium-size businesses access to more of Twitter’s data than is currently available for free, but at a lower price than its costly enterprise access, the company wrote in a blog post.

Initially, developers will get access to the past 30 days of Twitter data, and “soon” the company will give the midrange customers access to the full data history. The public beta for the tool kicks off Tuesday and pricing starts at $149 a month.

“In April, we outlined a new vision for our data platform and promised more scalable access to Twitter data,” Twitter spokesman Dan Jackson wrote to MarketWatch in an email. “Today we delivered on that with the introduction of premium APIs. These brand new products give developers increased access to Twitter data that previously was only available to our enterprise-level customers.”

See also: For Twitter, bad news means rampaging stock gains

Twitter stock fell 0.6% Tuesday to $20.05, but is still up 23% this year, while the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.23%  has gained 15.5%.

While the new developer program isn’t likely to suddenly cause data licensing revenue to surge, it represents an incremental part of a larger strategy to attract developers, much as Facebook Inc. FB, -0.39%  has done successfully.

“Developers hold the keys to the kingdom, and Twitter has had a rocky relationship with developers,” said Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights.

Read: Twitter admits to overstating users for years

Data licensing represented $87 million, or 14%, of Twitter’s $590 million in quarterly revenue for the third quarter, growing 22% from the year before. That’s a strong growth rate when compared with the company’s main source of revenue, ad sales, which shrank 7.7% to $502 million. Analysts on average predict data-licensing sales of $96 million in the fourth quarter, according to FactSet, which would push Twitter’s annual sales to $342 million, up from $282 million in 2016.

Though it’s the fastest-growing segment of Twitter, data licensing has been far less important than Wall Street expected around the company’s 2013 initial public offering.

“It’s been the most disappointing part of the story,” Ives said. “Twitter’s ability to monetize the platform has been the weakness.”

Ives added that the new product is an incremental change that investors will likely not notice for six to nine months.

Read: Twitter goes live with 280-character tweets for all

For its part, Twitter believes that data licensing is growing to be a more important contributor to top and bottom line growth.

“We see a huge opportunity for businesses to harness the power of Twitter in all aspects of their operations, and we will continue to focus on ways to provide better access to Twitter data to make innovation easier and more scalable,” Jackson wrote.

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