Do You Want Ads With That?
Just a day after making its presence felt on Apple's Store by buying Tweetie, comes the next step in the company's march to giant revenues and an eventual IPO. Today, Twitter unveiled its main advertising strategy -- launching soon. Welcome to the world of the "promoted" tweet. Said Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder, on his blog about move:
Stubborn insistence on a slow and thoughtful approach to monetization—one which puts users first, amplifies existing value, and generates profit has frustrated some Twitter watchers. Believe me, when your name is Biz and you're a co-founder of Twitter, it also means putting yourself at the mercy of folks like Stephen Colbert who hit home runs with lines like, "So, I assume that 'Biz' in 'Biz Stone' does not stand for 'Business Model'."
To avoid annoying its entire user base and to introduce us to the concept slowly, these tweets will initially only appear at the top of tweets found in response to a user's search. So, if you want to avoid twitter adverts, don't search for stuff -- although the promise is for just one ad per search. For third-party apps like Tweetdeck that rely on columns of searches, there will likely be a greater impact -- but it still shouldn't be too distracting.
However, at some unspecified point in the future they will start appearing in the main stream of your tweets. One worry for Twitter may be the renewed interest the FTC is taking in search and advertising, but at least it won't be the only company in the firing line.
Is this something that will have Twitter users up in arms about? RWW's Marshall Kirkpatrick thinks the plan is boring and that's how it should be:
This is great: it's relatively non-invasive, nothing too crazy, nothing terribly exploitive. Some people who insist on reading every Tweet in their stream will probably be annoyed once they find ads in it, but there are already lots of unofficial ads being published on Twitter and maybe this will break those people of the habit of obsessing over every little message.
Searching For the Money
To keep promoted tweets relevant, they will only appear, in the first phase, if they match a particular score generated from the search query. Advertisers will initially be charged per 1,000 views, as with most search systems, but in the longer term, the measured metric will be this score, known as a "resonance" score.
It is likely that the first customers will be the major lifestyle brands, consumer and technology firms, that best match Twitter users overall demographic. Starbucks is touted as one of the first and there will be many more big names trying to muscle in on the action.
But, where the fun will start is when local advertisers can use location-based services and search to offer, say, a restaurant when you tweet about looking for somewhere good to eat.
Round The Corner Advertising
So, this isn't some radical new cash-generating scheme. But, it is the logical way for Twitter to generate revenue from its vast banks of data and information. As long as the results are relevant and smart, which entails some nimble thinking from the brands and their ad agencies, then all should be well.
Remember the long promised dream of real-time, location-sensitive advertising? If everyone plays their cards right, perhaps Twitter will be the company to deliver that dream.
Unfortunately some may suffer from the entry of Promoted Tweets. In particular Bill Gross, who launched TweetUp, a marketplace for tweets at the beginning of this week: "TweetUp aims to identify relevant tweets and tweeters based on popularity, engagement, interest and also paid bidding on keywords."
According tofrom GIGAOM, "It is going to be hard for TweetUp to spin this development into a good thing." So what's good for Twitter isn't always what's good for everyone else.