Twitter Inc. has hired Ticketmaster’s former chief executive to lead a fresh push into e-commerce, as it looks to partner with advertisers and retailers to capture users’ impulse purchases.
Nathan Hubbard, who oversaw digital initiatives at concert promoter Live Nation until becoming chief of its ticketing unit after its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, starts this week as Twitter’s first head of commerce. He will report to Adam Bain, its head of revenue.
The appointment marks an attempt by Twitter to unlock another stream of revenue, at a time when it is seen as a likely candidate to go public within the next year.
While few retailers have found widespread success with selling goods through social networks, companies such as Twitter and Facebook Inc. see an opportunity to couple advertising with new ways to complete a transaction, to help demonstrate their value to brands.
Facebook is also testing new e-commerce features, such as a system to make it easier to enter payment details on a mobile app, it emerged this month.
Mr. Hubbard said that he saw Twitter as a “cardiogram for that passion and energy” around live events. “From my time being CEO of Ticketmaster, I came to believe in the power of serendipitous and situational commerce,” he said in an interview. “Twitter is the platform to try to pursue that opportunity.”
Twitter shut a short-lived attempt to offer “daily deals” a few years ago. More recently it has partnered with companies such as American Express to allow users to redeem coupons offline, in high-street stores, by tweeting specific terms after linking their credit card to their profile. Retailers such as Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc. and Dell Inc. offer short-term deals through Twitter but users must click through to their own websites to complete a transaction.
While Mr. Hubbard could not say what form Twitter’s next commerce services would look like, he said it would probably use the same “cards” or expanded tweets used by brands to share photos, videos and other widgets. In May, it launched a “lead generation” card that allows advertisers to join a loyalty card scheme or sign up for e-mail marketing without leaving Twitter.
“The next evolution of that card product and the tools we give to brands is eliminate the friction in buying and allow transactions within the platform,” Mr. Hubbard said, by reducing the number of mouse clicks or taps of a finger on a touchscreen to make a purchase.
Retailers could promote themselves on Twitter during moments of collective excitement about, for example, a live sporting event or TV show, which might create a “powerful conversion moment for a commerce opportunity”, he suggested.
Despite his own background in selling tickets for live events, Mr. Hubbard said that Twitter would not focus its commerce plans on any particular segment of the market and planned to partner with retailers rather than try to displace them.
“We are not going to take inventory of physical goods,” he said. “We are still in the early days but we are going to move quickly.”
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