Twitter Changes Timeline Algorithm, Launches First View Video Ad Unit

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Twitter Algorithm

To stave off disgruntled investors and the general public, Twitter is introducing a change to its algorithm that reorders the top of users’ timelines with tweets it is betting will be most interesting and relevant.

The criteria for selection include account interactions, engagement, user interests and network activity.

“The reason we’re doing this is there is just so much happening on Twitter every day, and we know it is sometimes easy for people to miss great content,” Twitter VP Revenue Products Ameet Ranadive told Adweek. “So, to solve this, we’re bringing the tweets from accounts that they follow that people are likely to care about the most, and we’re going to bring that to the top of the timeline.”

The remainder of a users’ newsfeed will follow the existing reverse-chronological order and this new feature can be turned on or off by users.

When Buzzfeed first reported the change, the Twitter-verse exploded and #RIPTwitter quickly became a trending hashtag:

Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of Broadway smash Hamilton rhymed his disapproval:

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted his response:

Twitter also unveiled a new video ad unit, First View, promising marketers they will be able to own the top Twitter for a 24-hour period, making it the first ad users see in their newsfeed on the Twitter app or website.

“Each day, millions of people come to Twitter to engage in conversations about their passions and every topic of interest that continually shapes culture,” blogged Twitter revenue product manager Deepak Rao. “At the same time, marketers come to Twitter to reach this live, premium audience through Promoted Trends and Promoted Moments, creating significant brand moments for their product launches, event sponsorships, and film premieres.”

With the recent defection of several key executives, Twitter needs a renaissance. “Until some more drastic changes take place with the product, Twitter will continue to lose ad dollars from brands as they focus on Facebook, Google and even Pinterest and Snapchat,” said Chris Tuff, director of business development and partnerships at 22squared, in Adweek. “It’s time for Twitter’s renaissance—I just hope they can find it in time.”

20th Century Fox was the first to run a First View ad. “Word of mouth is more important than it has ever been in movie marketing. And there is no better word of mouth social platform than Twitter,” wrote Marc Weinstock, President of Domestic Theatrical Marketing. “Twitter’s First View is a great opportunity to widely distribute our trailer for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates while generating buzz and social conversation.”

The changes come as the microblogger is due to announce its fourth quarter and full-year earnings after yesterday’s stock slip to below $15/share. The company has not released pricing information for First View, available to managed clients in the US and viewable only to US users for now.

Twitter also announced the formation of a new Trust & Safety Council. “To ensure people can continue to express themselves freely and safely on Twitter, we must provide more tools and policies…It requires a multi-layered approach where each of our 320 million users has a part to play, as do the community of experts working for safety and free expression.”

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