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TheStreet Open House

How the World Cup Has Helped Twitter

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil may help Twitter (TWTR) show improved user growth, retention and monetization, as throngs of footballing fans around the world take to the micro-blogging site for instant updates, reactions and videos of cracking goals, controversial calls and big moments.

Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia said in note to clients the World Cup has been helpful in improving engagement on Twitter. Twitter's fiscal second quarter results are due on July 21, and all of the World Cup action that's taken place to date - including the United States emergence from Group G, Chile's shootout loss to Brazil and Mexico's stoppage time collapse to Holland - happened during the quarter.

"We see potential for 2Q results to show improved user growth, retention, and monetization and are hopeful the trend is sustainable," Bhatia said in his report, while raising estimates of Twitter's 2015 fiscal year revenue and EBITDA to $2.1 billion and $485 million respectively. Still, the analyst holds a neutral rating on Twitter shares.

Separately, Twitter announced that Anthony Noto, the Goldman Sachs investment banker who helped lead the company's initial public offering, would be joining the firm as its CFO. Current CFO Mike Gupta, will assume the role of Senior Vice President, Strategic Investments within the next 30 days.

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When the World Cup kicked off on June 12, TheStreet called the micro-blogging site its top World Cup stock pick, citing reporting on Twitter's preparation for the tournament and the prospect that advertisers could leave the games with a better understanding of how the site could be used as a real-time marketing platform.

Since June 12, Twitter shares have rallied nearly 15% to $40.97 a share.

Twitter's World Cup Prep

Twitter hosted its marketing partners for training sessions prior to the World Cup so that they would be prepared to capture a real-time branding moment.

Those training sessions were used to demonstrate the ways advertisers can use Twitter as a marketing platform for campaigns that target a real-time event. With footage from previous tournaments, Twitter ran through specific test cases of on-field action where a marketing opportunity emerged.

"[T]he work that we're doing to touch marketers and agencies is less about why Twitter, and more about how Twitter," Adam Bain, Twitter's chief revenue officer, said of the company's World Cup prep at a recent investor conference.

"It turns out you can actually plan for being live or plan for being in the moment," Bain added, while noting that a key aspect of Twitter's partnership with Starcom MediaVest Group includes such training sessions to help advertisers.

As part of its World Cup plans, also Twitter unveiled new ways to organize soccer-related content and easier account sign-up functionality. Many of the new features Twitter rolled out for the World Cup, in addition to the prospect soccer fans decided to join the site, could boost engagement and overall user figures this quarter.

Twitter's World Cup functionality includes country and player guides, in addition to hashtags for individual games and teams that will open easy channels of communication on timelines when the tournament begins. Games such as the opening match of the World Cup, Brazil's group stage match against Croatia on June 12, will have their own page on Twitter, giving users real-time scores, player Twitter handles and reactions.

"We think the company's focus on the conversations on the platform and improved organization of the content are leading to improved user experiences. We have experienced this firsthand with the ongoing FIFA World Cup for which the company has tried to create a destination experience," Bhatia concluded.

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