Twitter faces skeptical investors and users, suggests poll in advance of IPO

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Twitter faces skepticism from potential investors and the broader public ahead of its initial public offering, according to an Associated Press-CNBC poll released Monday.

Some 36 per cent of Americans say buying stock in the 7-year-old short messaging service would be a good investment, while 47 per cent disagree. Last May, ahead of Facebook’s IPO, 51 per cent of Americans said Facebook Inc. would be a good investment. Just 31 per cent didn’t agree.

Twitter plans to make its Wall Street debut this week and surprisingly, 52 per cent of people ages 18 to 34 say investing in the company’s stock is not a good idea.

Twitter Inc. will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday morning after setting a price for its IPO sometime Wednesday evening. As it stands, the San Francisco-based company plans to raise as much as $1.6 billion in the process. The transaction values Twitter at as much as $12.5 billion. That’s little more than one-eighth of Facebook’s roughly $104 billion market value when it went public.

Twitter has not turned a profit since its launch, but its future depends on advertisements as a primary source of income. The company mainly sells three types of ads: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends. A company like Starbucks, for instance, can pay Twitter to promote a single tweet or it can pay the company to ask users to follow its account.

It does not bode well that more than half of Twitter users say they have not noticed advertising. Among the 42 per cent of users who did notice, 31 per cent say they’ve clicked on or followed one of the promoted items in question.

Among the poll’s other key findings:

  •  One in 5 Americans say they have a Twitter account. One in 10, meanwhile, looks at Twitter feeds but doesn’t have an account of their own.
  • Nearly a quarter of Twitter account holders send tweets at least once a day, while 29 per cent say they never do. More account holders say they read others’ tweets daily, 35 per cent.
  • About 30 per cent of Twitter users say they have used the service to register complaints about a product or service or when they are looking for information about services or products.
  • Twitter has billed itself as the place for public, real-time conversations, but only 16 per cent of users say they turn to Twitter frequently for breaking news. That said, 44 per cent of users do so at least some of the time.
  • Just 19 per cent of respondents say they have a “favourable” view of Twitter, while 47 per cent feel the same way about Facebook.
  • A sizable share of Americans aren’t familiar with Twitter or don’t know what to make of it: 9 per cent have never heard of it and another 12 per cent say they just don’t know how they feel about it.
  • Just 35 per cent of Americans say they think Twitter will be a successful company in five years. More, 49 per cent, think Facebook will be successful in five years.

The Associated Press-CNBC telephone poll was conducted Oct. 25 to 27 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications among 1,006 U.S. adults. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. According to Twitter, 77 per cent of its 232 million monthly visitors are outside of the U.S.


AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this story from Washington.

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