Twitter Brings In ‘Gnip’ to Help Monetize Its Data

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) has added Gnip, its first data partner, to its recent list of acquisitions, Wired Magazine and TechCrunch reported Tuesday.

Gnip is one of just a handful of Twitter partners that have access to the full “firehose” of Twitter data; that is, the entire, massive stream of Tweets dating all the way back to Twitter’s inception in 2006. Now, Twitter averages more than 500 million Tweets per day; that’s a lot of data that encompasses a lot of different people all over the world. Where does Gnip come in? The company pares down that information by analyzing the data and then resells it to researchers and other companies.

The data stream that Twitter and other social media sites, like Facebook, provide are becoming an increasingly important resource for analysts and researchers in both business and academia, as well as news reporters looking to to identify key information about a breaking news story.

“Public Tweets can reveal a wide variety of insights — so much so that academic institutions, journalists, marketers, brands, politicians, and developers regularly use aggregated Twitter data to spot trends, analyze sentiment, find breaking news, connect with customers and more,” said Twitter’s VP of Global Business Development and Platform Jana Messerschmidt in a statement announcing the acquisition, per Wired.

CNN has utilized Twitter for years now; in 2009, it utilized a Twitter user-submitted photo of passengers huddled on the wing of a U.S. Airways flight which was forced to land in the Hudson, which went on to become the iconic image associated with the story. In January the news outlet announced a new partnership with the New York data startup Dataminr, to help its reporters identify new stories. “It’s like bionic vision for our reporters,” said Kenneth Estenson, general manager of CNN digital, per the Verge. “It helps us to see things faster than our competition and to act with confidence.”

Because Twitter data is becoming such a sought after resource for predicting trends and identifying key details in breaking news stories, Twitter’s acquisition of its data partner makes sense: it allows the company greater control over how its own data is monetized. By bringing Gnip under its wing, Twitter is able to effectively cut out the middle man.

But while Twitter’s data stream is useful to journalists and social scientists, it’s more likely that Twitter sees Gnip as a way to monetize its business and will likely peddle the data to the likes of Fortune 500 companies rather than a budding sociologist working on her dissertation.

Messerschmidt says that Twitter hopes that its purchase of Gnip will enable it to offer “more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments, so that even more developers and businesses big and small around the world can drive innovation using the unique content that is shared on Twitter. We will continue making our data available to Gnip’s growing customer base,” he added, per Wired.

Last year Twitter brought in about $70.3 million in revenue, of which, 11 percent came from licensing its data, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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