Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey video-called from his Californian office on day two of Dmexco in Cologne for a one-on-one chat with WPP founder Sir Martin Sorrell.
Despite being scheduled to appear live, Dorsey was unable to attend after being delayed in the US. He discussed with Sorrell that the instant chat platform, which predates the iPhone, has been heavily investing in tech to monetise more efficiently.
There has been a lot of speculation around what Twitter could become in the future, to which Dorsey reassures going forward there is a strongly focussed plan, executing innovation to the core business.
He described coverage of live events on Twitter as “low latency, extremely alive,” whilst “bringing conversation right to the screen” with insight and humour.
Sorrell questioned, following the NFL live streaming contract, what content the platform would invest in, to which Dorsey continued to discuss the company’s focus on live events. “It’s our sweet spot, it has been for the last 10 years,” he added, referencing Obama’s first presidential run in 2008.
Dorsey said he didn’t “have a strong opinion” on whether rights owners were better off bundling their assets, instead talking about the company’s focus on increasing the size of its audience, creating a seamless cross-device experience and machine learning.
Sorrell questioned Twitter’s involvement in Donald Trump’s US election campaign, having been credited as one of the greatest communication assets. Dorsey refused to comment on who he thinks will win the election but did discuss the platform’s importance to news and the conversation around it.
“We’re looking more long term at what the service provides,” he added. “Our biggest policy is that we want people to have control of their experience so we’re no monitoring arbitrary content on the system,” Dorsey said, going on to discuss a recent flair up in targeted harassment on Twitter.
Control the experience
“There are tools that we give people to help them have an experience where they feel safe enough to say what they want to see in the world,” he commented on the steps the company is taking to minimise targeted abuse.
On the subject of social media saturation, Dorsey said that the company’s current affairs focus elevated it to a news platform. “I think there’s room for a lot, people don’t have to make a binary choice,” he added, reinforcing the platform’s strengths in live and real time conversations.
Discussing the duopoly of Facebook and Google discussed yesterday in Sorrell’s session with Vice’s Shane Smith, Dorsey said it was a real opportunity to strengthen its news.
“We carry a lot of the world’s conversation about every single topic under the sun,” he added, mentioning how other platforms are more focused on purely social.
“I think for a long time, we have been bumped into the category of social network, and I think of people come expecting to find what they will find on other social networks,” he said. “You’ll find what’s going on in the world, conversations with world leaders that set us apart, not just last year but over the last 10 years.”
Strengthen and simplify
Looking to the future, Dorsey says Twitter aims to strengthen and simplify services so more people can understand how to use the service, and reset expectations around its purpose and functions.
In the accuracy versus immediacy debate, Dorsey said that Twitter’s immediacy allows people to reach accuracy faster.
“You have the ability to immediately correct and be on the record with what’s actually true,” he answered. “You can get a bunch of opinions very quickly, then find a balance.”
Dorsey’s advice to chief executives and political candidates was to be themselves. “People in leadership positions really have an opportunity,” he added. “An organisation can feel a lot smaller and more relatable to people when they can have conversations,” he said.
The session experienced some technical difficulties, meaning that time was limited and some questions went unanswered. Although Sorrell does not have a Twitter account, he promised to set one up in exchange for Dorsey agreeing to appear in person at next year’s Dmexco event.