Twitter Ditches DataSift to Bring Data Reselling In-House

Twitter has ended its partnership with social analytics firm DataSift and will turn off the company’s access to its user data “firehose” in August.

The social network uses companies such as DataSift and NTT Data to channel data to other companies looking to build services, carry out analysis, or target advertising to Twitter users.

However, Twitter is effectively shifting its data reselling business in-house by dealing exclusively with Gnip, a social data provider that Twitter acquired last year.

Zach Hofer-Shall, head of Twitter ecosystem, said in a Gnip blog post that the move will create direct relationships with the companies using Twitter’s data, rather than working at arm’s length through resellers.

“The next step in working directly with data customers is to transition everyone receiving raw data for commercial use from other data resellers to a direct relationship with Twitter,” he said.

Hofer-Shall explained that Gnip already has the majority of Twitter’s data reseller business, followed by DataSift and NTT Data, and that it made sense to carry out the transition.

Twitter will push for companies to consume the social data using its commercial application programming interfaces (APIs) provided through Gnip’s product suite and the social network’s public API.

The move met with a mixed reaction from DataSift chief executive Nick Halstead.

“Thank you for all the words of support, but in case it hasn’t come across clearly enough, we’re fine. Our business model has never relied on access to Twitter data,” he said in a blog post.

Halstead explained that DataSift works with 20 other social and news networks to source aggregate data for customers.

But Halstead emphasized that Twitter’s move away from DataSift is not good for the data reselling ecosystem, which he claims will be seriously damaged and affect 80 percent of DataSift’s customers.

“Twitter also demonstrated that it doesn’t understand the basic rules of this market: social networks make money from engagement and advertising,” he said.

“Revenue from data should be a secondary concern to distribution and it should occur only in a privacy-safe way. Better understanding of their audiences means more engagement and more ad spend from brands. More noise = less ad spend.”

The move may not be ideal for DataSift, but Halstead pointed out that a recent partnership with Facebook and its Pylon technology to give companies access to user data without compromising privacy keeps DataSift in a strong position.

Author’s view: Halstead told V3 about DataSift’s strong forecasted growth, but Twitter’s decision to close off its data firehose could disrupt the firm in the short-term. However, DataSift is likely to concentrate on strengthening its partnership with Facebook.

The move would seem to make sense for Twitter, as it helps to consolidate the site’s business model in one place. But ditching DataSift could see Twitter losing some of the expertise brought by separate reseller companies. We will have to wait and see how this affects Twitter’s next round of financial results.

This article was originally published on V3.

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