Twitter's Biz Stone on Bing, Location, Privacy & World Cup Explosion

Biz Stone
Biz Stone

I caught up with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone at Microsoft's launch of its Bing Entertainment search service.

Microsoft is increasingly integrating Tweets into its search results, which makes particular sense with entertainment queries, which are particularly popular on Twitter.

Bing was the first search engine to integrate Twitter into results, giving Twitter a new revenue stream, and last night Stone told me he wants his relationship with Bing to be decades-long and a win-win for both companies.

In the case of Twitter Entertainment, that means Twitter will get new traffic from exposure on Bing Entertainment searches.

In the midst of controversy over Apple geo-locating its devices, and the privacy risks that raises, Stone weighed in on the importance of location services for Twitter's users and ad revenue. Twitter allows users to click a box to have their location identified and tagged on their Tweets. Making this an opt-in service means it's growing very slowly — just a small percentage of Twitter users have taken that step. But Stone emphasized that it's absolutely key that location is opt-in, because users don't always want people to know where they're tweeting from.

Down the line location will be a huge part of Twitter services and advertising.

Stone explained how 'Twitter Places,"a recent launch, matches up your location with a specific venue, so you can figure out what people are saying about the restaurant you're eating at or the concert you're watching. Users can also monitor trends of the city they're in -- what are people in Austin saying about movies? And the more people that identify their location, the more valuable it'll be to advertisers who want to target certain customers or want to offer deals to specific areas. Stone didn't weigh in specifically on the recent Apple issues, but he did say that as long as companies focus on what's best for users they will avoid a blow-up about privacy concerns.

So is location the holy grail for Twitter's advertising?

Stone says it's too soon to say.

Twitter's first advertising model, "Promoted Tweets" have been dong very well, as have the early roll-out of "Promoted Trends,"an expansion of that.

Now the company's focused on introducing some new features they haven't had the resources to develop in the past. The more people use their site, the bigger the audience for ads.

If you've been frustrated about Twitter's site crashing more frequently than usual, you may be able to blame the World Cup. Stone tells me that normally there are about 750 Tweets per second created on Twitter — through the World Cup the company's seen 3,000 Tweets per second. That speaks to the service's massive global scale. The tournament is having a huge effect on Twitter now, we'll see if it adds more users after the games end.

Questions? Comments?