Twitter’s Adam Bain Gives Marketers Reasons to Anticipate Project Lightning

Could make real-time tweets easier to discover

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Twitter revenue chief Adam Bain was quick to dodge a question about the possibility that he's in the running to be the company's next CEO during a panel at the Dmexco conference in Cologne, Germany, that kicked off today. But he gave marketers a hint at what his social platform's upcoming Project Lightning service will look like.

Project Lighting, which will launch later this fall, groups the most popular tweets about a topic or event in real time on one landing page to make it easier for people to find content. For brands, it's a way to make sure their real-time tweets get seen during buzzy TV events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl.

"One of the problems with all of that content is actually finding the things that you care about," Bain said. "What Project Lightning aims to do is organize content for consumers in easy, digestable ways, even if they don't follow some of these accounts."

Bain said Project Lightning solves two of Twitter's most pressing problems: bringing new people to the platform and helping hard-core users get through streams of tweets to find things they're interested in.

"For new users, one of the challenges have often been just the learning curve and amount of energy and effort it takes to set up a Twitter—so for those people, especially our logged-out users, they can bounce over and see what's happening in the world," he said.

For folks who use Twitter every day, people often only see a small selection of content from brands, including ads. "Sometimes you can curate yourself out of interesting content," Bain said.

Meanwhile, Twitter is also rumored to be working with Google to build a news platform for publishers to rival Facebook's Instant Articles. Unlike Facebook's platform that keeps all content within an app—similar to a walled garden—Twitter's play would likely be built with an open source code that speeds up load time, giving it a slight advantage over Facebook for publishers.

Bain declined to say whether Twitter is in fact making a platform, but he did say his company brings a couple of unique things to news distribution, particularly in mobile, where it makes 90 percent of its revenue.

For years, publishers have tweaked the links they post to Twitter, since 90 percent of traffic also comes from mobile. "If one were to address a problem like this that's industrywide, one quick way to get scale would be to do something like this."

Bain also talked about commerce-related announcements to come out of the microblogging service within the past few months.

On Monday, Twitter announced a deal with payment company Stripe that lets any retailer set up 'Buy' buttons. Then yesterday, Twitter rolled out donation buttons that will let political candidates raise funds from tweets.

"There's a lot of stuff happening in commerce. It's obviously super early days on the commerce side, but it's exciting," Bain said.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.