So the big discussion online today is about the newly launched ChurpChurp – a Twitter advertising network.
Twitter has been ‘the next big thing‘ for a while now, and almost everyone is already on the bandwagon.
Thankfully it’s supporting the mass exodus without falling down or becoming lame, mostly because it’s a push platform you choose who you listen to and it’s easy enough to follow/un-follow and/or block people.
Naturally advertisers and entrepreneurs will see a large audience and associate that with dollar signs, not always the best reaction.
Due to the nature of Twitter, information is pushed out by people and displayed to their followers without any filtering (or any option for filtering). So if there is spam or ads in someones Twitter stream, everyone following them will see it (given they are online and ‘listening’ at that time).
This is bad when it comes to advertising, in a newspaper or magazine no one forces you to read the ads. But like on the TV when you’re watching a show you don’t have much choice but to see the ads if they are relevant or not and if you like them or not.
Twitter is similar to this, so I have a feeling ads will annoy people as Twitter is predominantly a personal platform for expression.
Advertising on Twitter is not a new concept, RevTwt for example has been around for quite some time. RevTwt works on the click-through model, you post a link on your Twitter stream and you get paid depending on how many people click on it.
This works for some people I guess, those people who have 16,000 followers..but are following 18,000 people.
It’s not hard to achieve given the time and patience, which leaves the Twitter advertising model open to abuse (especially if your primary metric for payout is by followers).
Saying that, not all advertising is bad – there has to be some way to manage it. It must be:
I personally think all forms of advertising should be disclosed, but then advertisers in this region haven’t reached that maturity level yet.
Even better on Twitter is if the advertising is properly controlled and sanctioned by Twitter themselves. If this doesn’t happen, whatever ad networks try and harness Twitter could be exposing their users to the risk of being deleted for spamming.
I believe ad networks should revenue share with Twitter and Twitter themselves should have ‘authorized ad providers’ which harness users directly (which is what brands and advertisers want).
The ads could have an API flag to mark them as an advert, and each ad network has an identifier. Everyone trying to advertise without authorization will be marked as a spammer and booted.
This also means ads can be opt-in/opt-out – so if you don’t want to see ads from anyone you can just opt-out rather than having to unfollow that person.
It means Twitter gets revenue as well without having to deal with the advertising platform itself, it just adjusts it’s API to accept the ads and takes the revenue share for providing the propagation platform.
The other option is to make the ads mandatory and to opt-out you have to ‘subscribe’ to some kind of premium Twitter account which has some extra features and no ads. I know Twitter is considering the premium account route, but I don’t think ads are in the picture so far.
They are also trying to figure out how to integrate ads or some kind of money making stream into Twitter without being evil.
There are ads in some Twitter clients, but that is to support the software rather than Twitter or any kind of service. You can remove the ads by purchasing the software (Tweetie for Mac).
And Twitter can’t have contextual ads on Twitter.com, because hardly anyone uses the site. The vast majority of traffic is via the API and 3rd party applications.
It’s an interesting time and I’ll be watching what happens with ChurpChurp, Twitter advertising in general and Twitter themselves as a company in terms of revenue.
Another viewpoint from Colin here: