By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated April 15, 2014.
With data analytics being an intrinsic part of digital advertising, Twitter is moving to beef up its capability. On Tuesday, the micro-blogging service announced it had agreed to buy data service Gnip.
Deal terms were not released. Gnip is a Twitter partner that has access to the datastream of tweet information going back to 2006, when Twitter was founded. Data from the half-billion daily tweets are a treasure of insights about users not only for Twitter, but also for others interested in selling on the service. In 2013, Twitter made more than $70 million from licensing its data, representing over 10 percent of its total revenue and nearly 50 percent more than the amount it made from data licensing in 2012.
In fact, Twitter has been making a concerted effort to build up the data side of its operation. In January of last year, it bought mobile-app-crash reporting service Crashlytics, and then picked up social TV analytics provider Bluefin Labs in the next month.
'Exceeded Our Wildest Expectations'
In a post on its corporate blog Tuesday, Gnip CEO Chris Moody said the partnership with Twitter had "exceeded our wildest expectations." Since the alliance started four years ago, he said, analytics from about 2.3 trillion tweets had been delivered by Gnip to customers in 42 countries.
As part of Twitter, Moody said, Gnip can "go much faster and much deeper," supporting "a broader set of use cases across a diverse set of users including brands, universities, agencies, and developers big and small." He said that access to Twitter's resources and infrastructure will allow Gnip "to scale to the next level and offer new products and solutions."
Gnip was the first official reseller of Twitter data, and the first to provide access to the full archive of public tweets. Interestingly, Twitter now also has insights into two major social media competitors, Facebook and Tumblr, as Gnip analyzes their data as well.
For its part, Twitter Vice President Jana Messerschmidt said on a company blog that aggregated data about public tweets are used by "academic institutions, journalists, marketers, brands, politicians and developers" to determine "trends, analyze sentiment, find breaking news, connect with customers and much more."
'Only Begun' to Scratch Surface
Twitter said that its acquisition of Gnip can help make the tweet-stream data "even more accessible." But Gnip's services so far have "only begun to scratch the surface," Messerschmidt said, and the company expects to offer "more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments."
Gnip's services include a "full firehose of data" directly from several sources, including Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, WordPress, Disqus, StockTwits, IntenseDebate, Estimize and Sitrion.
Other services include PowerTrack, a filtering language to filter down the firehose into the data coverage desired, and Data Collector, which uses multiple public APIs via a single connection to Gnip. Historical PowerTrack offers access to "every publicly available tweet, ever," Search API provides instant access to the last 30 days of Twitter data, and a service called Rehydration API looks up tweets by ID, providing associated metadata and Gnip enrichments for brands that want to know more about their own Tweetstream.