In a bid to make its subscription service more robust, social media platform Twitter has acquired Scroll, the news startup that is venture-backed and helmed by Tony Haile, the former CEO of Chartbeat. This is the second time that Twitter has moved to acquire a startup this year, after it first acquired Revue, the platform which is used for publishing newsletters.
The idea behind these steps is to help its millions of users get easier access to long form posts, without having to face the hassles of ads. The company is looking to offer a subscription service in its bid to find alternate revenue sources, and the Revue and Scroll acquisitions will go a long way towards that.
Scroll was launched last year, to help users read news without having to go through ads, through its sound ad-blocking system, while also allowing publishers to earn quick money. The basic way in which the platform functions is by asking users for a subscription amount to get access to its services, which allows them to visit the websites they normally (and frequently) visit, minus the annoying ads. While this is definitely a win for users, it is also much more beneficial to publishers, who are paid by the Scroll platform (to make up for the monetary loss they might face due to the absence of ads, which serve as a source of income to them). What’s interesting to note is that the amount paid to these publishers by Scroll is significantly more than what they receive through ads.
The short term effects of the deal between Twitter and Scroll will see the ad-blocking service temporarily suspending new users from signing up, as it works to integrate its services into Twitter’s package. Publishers, however, will be allowed to join the Scroll service once the deal closes. Once it enters into Twitter’s services, Scroll will be going into private beta so as to get customer reviews for the same.
As for the long-term, Twitter claims that the new offering will become a “meaningful addition to its subscription products.” Twitter users will have the option of subscribing to Scroll, to get access to thousands of ad-free published works from major houses including USA Today, The Sacramento Bee, The Verge, The Daily Beast, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Atlantic. Scroll will also temporarily be taking out its Nuzzel offering, which is a news intelligence product that it had acquired back in 2019. However, the company plans to embed the features from Nuzzle directly into the Twitter interface.
With this new deal, Twitter aims to further hone its content efforts in the long run, while also helping publishers get more money on their content. It might be worth mentioning that Twitter is one of the most publisher/media house-friendly companies. In fact, Tony Haile commended the platform’s efforts to give more to publishers, saying, Analysts joke that Twitter suffers in comparison to other platforms because the value realized by third parties from Twitter is far greater than the value it is able to capture for itself. They see this as a weakness. It is a strength.” He also spoke on the acquisition, saying, “Twitter exists to serve the public conversation. Journalism is the mitochondria of that conversation. It initiates, energizes and informs. It converts and confounds perspectives. At its best it helps us stand in one another’s shoes and understand each other’s common humanity. The mission we’ve been given by Jack and the Twitter team is simple: take the model and platform that Scroll has built and scale it so that everyone who uses Twitter has the opportunity to experience an internet without friction and frustration, a great gathering of people who love the news and pay to sustainably support it.”