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.
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.