Twitter advertising will go official soon

Twitter advertising is already in existence thanks to third parties including Magpie and Ad.ly, but details of the official Twitter ad platform have emerged in an article by All Things D’s Peter Kafka.

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Image by Stefan on Flickr, used under CC Licence.

The plans are apparently evolving and there are plenty of details to be worked out, suggesting that the launch date will be likely in the first half of 2010, rather than in a month as previous articles have predicted. It’s also likely to be designated a ‘test’ rather than the total solution to monetising Twitter.

The platform is very similar to a Google model:

  • Adverts will show up in related Twitter searches.
  • Adverts will use 140 characters and will be distributed via third-party applications, which can choose whether to display advertising and share in the revenue.
  • Twitter will work with ad agencies and buyers to seed the platform, but will move to a self-serve model.

It’s interesting that Twitter has waited so long to implement an advertising model which has been made so ubiquitous by Google – presumably they were waiting for a critical mass of users and search volume before the conversion percentage was likely to be worthwhile.

Conversion rates will be of immense interest, as the usage of Twitter search is likely to show big differences to a Google search – a higher proportion of Twitter searchers are likely to be solely interested in other users and conversation, and will be less likely to covert to purchasing around a search term.

It’s a good step in terms of avoiding advertising in general Twitter usage, and the fact third-party applications can share in revenue or turn down Twitter advertising is a good move, and could help third parties implement a freemium model to monetise themselves.

The 140 limit makes sense – but I suspect it will be challenged by advertisers who suddenly realise exactly how hard it can be to include enough information into 140 characters – remember how adverts tend to carry a brand name, strap-line, and a call to action?

The one thing it doesn’t do is allow Twitter users to monetise their own content – which is the route of third party ad platforms such as Ad.ly and Magpie. They work on the influencer strategy, meaning that I can display their advertising to my followers in exchange for money, and as far as I’m aware, Twitter doesn’t take any share of the proceeds.

I can’t wait to see the first case study from a brand which invests in both approaches at the same time – it could go some way to quantifying the difference between a search advertising route and a influential recommendation route with the same message on the same network.

One week, two new services…

It’s been a bit of a busy week at work, with not one, but two major projects launching on Friday night.

One is Absolute 80s, a new station which does what it says on the tin online, on DAB in London, and on your TV, mobile, etc.

The other is dabbl, the user-controlled station which was originally launched in beta as part of One Golden Square Labs. As a beta it broadcast 7pm -6am online and on DAB in London, but to coincide with the launch of Absolute 80s, it now has a much larger music library as an evolution of what was Absolute Xtreme. It’s also 24/7 online, as well as on DAB across Swindon, Bristol and Essex.

What’s been immediately interesting is how for me, dabbl combines some of the benefits of radio (not having to make an individual playlist, hearing new tracks, sharing with people who aren’t online etc), with some of the benefits of playlist-based services (being able to pick music I like).

And also looking at initial traffic, Facebook page support and Twitter messages for both stations. Obviously it’s incredibly early to draw any conclusions, but so far the response has been really positive, which is fantastic.

If you want to be supportive:

Absolute 80s on Facebook

Absolute 80s on Twitter

dabbl on Facebook

dabbl on Twitter

Oh, and if you want to listen to both stations while you’re out of the house, they’ve joined Absolute Radio and Absolute Classic Rock in the freshly-updated Absolute Radio iAmp for the iPhone and for Android Phones, available on iTunes and in the Android Marketplace now.

Not bad a bad week, especially when you consider there’s also been a load of other stuff going on (for instance 3 special Christmas sessions in a church in London), plus there are a load of other projects and plans which will be revealed in the near future.

And behind the scenes, it’s been continual proof of how talented the people are in the building. And the thing is this combination of talent and innovation continually means raising the game, which is fantastic (if a little scary at times!).

Right, time to go and do some voting on dabbl

Don’t write Yammer off yet

This is the first post by new contributor Lauren Fisher, who specialises in online PR and social media at Simply Zesty – and can be found on Twitter at @laurenfisher.

Yammer seemingly suffered the fate of many internet startups. It benefited from the initial buzz of being a new brand, with the handy association of both microblogging and launching at TC50 , but failed to retain the traffic. The site traffic for the ‘Twitter for companies’ has been largely unstable, certainly not following an upward trend, failing to get anywhere near the initial 200k visits it reached on its launch in September 2008.
For many of us, Yammer was exciting for a few days, before we neglected the site and focused our full attention back to Twitter. I don’t think we should write Yammer off just yet though. Yammer is not like most social media tools out there, because it’s focused primarily on companies. I believe this is the key to why it’s success has been slow.
Affecting change in a corporate environment is still an incredibly slow process. Sure there would have been one or two social media heads within organisations that would have been embraced it, but this isn’t sufficient for the service to function properly. If there’s only a few of you using it, you might as well just DM each other on Twitter.
There are also issues of security. I remember talking to someone in a pharmaecutical company who was effectively using the site with a number of her employees. Then IT caught wind of this and blocked access to the site amid concerns of privacy. But although this highlights the nature of trying to introduce social tools within companies, I don’t think Yammer should be written off just yet .
Another reason to keep an eye on it? Two interesting moves. In August of this year the company moved closer to Silicon Valley, and shortly after was joined by Sean Parker, Founding President of Facebook,  and co-founder Napster and Plaxo. Not a bad name to have to your company and a sure sign that there’s more to come from Yammer.

Guy Kawasaki and Alltop launch personal MyAlltop pages

After a year of aggregating feeds on a pretty large range of topics, Alltop has released personal MyAlltop pages.

MyAlltop - personal alltop pages

MyAlltop - personal alltop pages

What was nice was that existing Alltop users like myself got an email from Guy to give us the chance to secure our usernames before anyone else turned up.

And it’s a reasonably nice and easy set-up – register, log-in, and then visit any existing Alltop category, and simply tick which feeds you wish to include on your own page – then order them by dragging and dropping.

(For reference, this blog appears on Social Media, my Twitter account is on Twitterati, and my other blog, 140char is on Twitter)

And there are now accounts for Dan Thornton, BadgerGravling, TheWayoftheWeb and 140char on My Alltop – although so far, I’ve only had time to add my own feeds and will have to dedicate some time tonight to aggregating my favourite sources to the TheWayoftheWeb and 140Char accounts.

But why?

What’s interesting to me is why they’ve launched personal aggregation – one reason is probably the number of feeds in each category has become a little overwhelming. Guy Kawasaki is claiming the service features 31,000 sources on 550 topics already.

Obviously there is also an SEO benefit in having hundreds of people linking to their personal pages, and it means the service is more likely to get repeated fresh links as people add to their personal pages.

And it might boost usage as some people will prefer their personal aggregation over the category pages.

Plus, bearing in mind Alltop currently serves display advertising, there’s suddenly a lot more real estate being created, promoted and potentially becoming popular.

But:

I’m hoping there are more reasons for launching this new service, in addition to those listed above – otherwise it might not really fly.

As others have rightly pointed out, public and personal aggregators already exist – Netvibes, Pageflakes and iGoogle for starters. Plus options such as Google Reader, which also offers shared items (My shared items are here).

(Incidentally, Marshall Kirkpatrick has been posting some interesting stuff on Netvibes)

And then there are the popularity based aggregators such as SocialMedian, more semantic options like Twine, and the old school (e.g. Digg).

In addition, MyAlltop is hampered slightly by only allowing feeds already listed to be included, and not having any search functionality – meaning you need to skim through some fairly big pages to find your own feeds and any you know/might think are on there.

So what could there be?

Some people might find it slightly simpler to aggregate existing Alltop feeds than on rival services – particularly those who don’t necessarily already know a load of social media bloggers ( for example), and have their RSS feeds in other services.

Then there are the future possible options to include other feeds, display the selection as a widget, flag up favourite posts, perhaps group invidual posts around topics/questions etc, etc.

But from a quick brainstorm, I’m missing what really makes MyAlltop stand out at the moment – so I’m hoping you’ll give me some ideas to include?

Social networking Virb -ally

There’s been a lot of talk about new social networking site Virb, and having signed up, it’s easy to see why.

It’s pretty much everything Myspace could have been by now. Easy sign-up, very easy profile customisation, integration with Flickr, music player, video player etc. There’s a huge list of features, here.

And it also shares a sense of humour with a lot of web 2.0 start-ups, giving you friendly, original messages, rather than boring, staid old technical talk and 404 errors.

There’s suggestions it could be a Myspace killer, but I don’t think that will happen. Myspace is too integrated as the brand of social networking, and just aspiring models and spamming indie bands will keep that status.

Meanwhile Facebook has the ‘just connecting with friends’ corner, Bebo is more ‘tween’ orientated, and Faceparty is all about getting laid.

But Virb should pick up all the technically minded, and tech-interested web users. The basics give you WordPress-type customisation with ease, while the most technical will be able to do a huge range of things. So if you’re looking to connect with webbies, Virb looks like the place to do it.

I’m there, at http://www.virb.com/badgergravling.