Twitter & Google Deal: Tweets Coming To A Search Engine Near You

This article, written by Ingrid Lunden, originally appeared here:

During Twitter’s Q4 earnings call, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo today confirmed that Twitter has signed a firehose deal with Google, which will bring tweets back into Google searches, more eyeballs to those tweets — and hopefully more clicks onto pages where Twitter can subsequently monetise that activity.

The renewed firehose announcement was not a big surprise after rumors surfaced earlier this week. It will be the first time that Tweets will appear in Google searches after they disappeared in 2011. They will not start appearing for another “several months,” Costolo said on the company’s Q4 earnings call today.

Costolo did not go into any detail about the financial terms of the agreement with Google, but CFO Anthony Noto did note that the proceeds of agreements like this are “considered” as part of the company’s guidance and referred to data licensing revenues for third-party partnerships.

Data licensing in Q4 was $47 million, up 105% on a year ago, and up by $6 million on Q3, but Noto also pointed out that since the integration of Twitter’s firehose isn’t happening just yet, neither is the Google deal showing up in its data licensing revenues.

Luring In Traffic Through Google

The last time Google and Twitter worked together on a firehose agreement was in 2009.

The reason for Twitter’s return to the Google fold is straightforward. Twitter is very focused right now on bringing more traffic to its content and then monetising that, and that has taken a very specific form for the company: showing tweets to people who are not already Twitter users.

Twitter estimates that there are some 600 million people who already land on Twitter pages as “logged-out” (that is, unregistered) users, compared to the 288 million registered monthly active users it has today.

The Google search deal will essentially be used for “onboarding,” Costolo said. If a “logged out” (that is, unregistered or not logged in) user sees a tweet in a Google search and then clicks on it, that person will be delivered to a special “logged out” page, which will likely not only give him/her an option to sign up, but also deliver an ad or two (or three) — “topics and events that we plan on delivering on the front page of Twitter,” in Costolo’s words.

“We’ve had a relationship with Google for years,” he said. But he was also careful to point out that what Twitter will now be doing with the search giant is “distinct from the past.”

“We’ve got the opportunity now to drive and aggregate eyeballs to logged-out experiences that we plan to deliver on the front page of Twitter,” he continued, “and that’s why it makes a lot more sense now.”

Since 2011, Google has had Twitter links in its results, but it has largely been around linking to accounts rather than individual tweets because it would obtain them through crawling rather than Twitter’s data firehose. The tweets should mean a higher frequency and also more specific and real-time results.

It could also potentially mean more enhanced results beyond simple text, if Twitter extends the firehose to include Twitter Cards as well, or other kinds of data like location.