Twitter Advertising – The Next Big Thing?

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:

  • Controlled/Authorized
  • Disclosed

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:

ChurpChurp: Nuffnang’s new Twitter offering

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16 Responses to Twitter Advertising – The Next Big Thing?

  1. Mellissa July 28, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    Agreed that it will be very interesting to watch what will happen and the response it will get. I won’t be signing up though and I will be very strict in unfollowing people because I love Twitter and it would really irritate me to log-in every morning and see my timeline full of ads.

  2. KY July 28, 2009 at 4:52 pm #

    Yeah it is indeed interesting. I think the model is still quite premature and I’m quite sure when the dust is settled the final mechanism could be quite different from what churp churp (or any current twitter ad network) is doing.

  3. goldfries July 28, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    I’ve registered myself at ChurpChurp and guess what – I hated the idea of having to write SPONSORED TWEETS, regardless whether it’s automated or generated.

    I’ll just give it a try anyway, to know how things go about before totally writing it off. πŸ™‚

  4. julian July 28, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    Agree that the best way would be able to block ads, but not the person necessarily (though if they do ads all the time, I would probably unfollow them, as I’ve done already).

    Another way Twitter could host ads would be by having them on your home page, though maybe that wouldn’t make any difference to someone who uses one of the apps like Tweetdeck I suppose.

  5. suanie July 28, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    i already unfollowed a few ppl who tweet ads. except for @wonojo. i don’t know why…

  6. Huai Bin July 29, 2009 at 12:37 am #

    This is interesting…however it launched with so little fanfare. I didn’t even know about it until I read your blog.

  7. davidlian July 29, 2009 at 2:26 am #

    I’m wondering really how does the advertiser really benefit from all this? Do you think they’ll actually get good-will off of the ads?

    Anyway, I posted my thoughts here:
    http://www.davidlian.com/2009/07/can-you-purchase-conversation.html

  8. Niki Cheong July 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    It’s interesting. I signed up just to test it out (although there is a 48 hour-notice period to stop the ads in the fine print). Which, now that I think of it, is a long time in cyberspace.

    I like the note about Twitter treating it as spam – something to think about.

    And depending on the frequency, I personally won’t unfollow someone because of the ads – depends on the ratio of ads to their usual Tweets I suppose.

  9. Matthew July 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm #

    Susu… coklat! Haha.

  10. ShaolinTiger July 30, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    Mellissa: Yah same here, Twitter is a very personal and interactive platform – not one I believe that should be used for advertising.

    KY: Definitely, we need to give it a good 6-12month to see what is happening and the acceptance levels.

    goldfries: Yah well it’s always good to try things out, only then you can really make a well informed comment on it.

    suanie: So far (Before Churp2) no one in my stream was advertising.

    Huai Bin: Well I see you’ve joined up πŸ™‚ It was a pretty quiet launch.

    davidlian: I’m not sure, it’s a topic open for debate much like advertorials. I can see how it will work in some ways, as long as it’s not abused.

    Niki Cheong: Yah I’d prefer not to have to unfollow people, but imagine 30 people people in your stream tweeting the same thing..It’d be better to be able to chose to globally block ads.

    Matthew: Haha you saw me on TV eh.

  11. s2k_247 August 1, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    I think that adding ads to Twitter will probably kill Twitter, … At the end of the day, Twitter is basically a platform to share personal stuff, and having ads on such a service kinda defeats the purpose. This is not like a blog, where while it is kind of a medium to share thoughts and ideas and whats going on in the blogger’s life, it has evolved into a mode of making money, through ads. Putting ads on Twitter will make it like those blogs that are created just to have ad’s on em, and praying that someone clicks on the ads…

  12. y2kbug August 2, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    I personally hate ads on twitter, it’s just plain super annoying. I will just unfollow anyone that does that. Twitter is just a hype, with a drop out rate of 60%, I am not sure how long it’s gonna last anyway. I had been rarely tweeting since a few months ago, so are my friends. It’s starting to be an uncool thing to do.

  13. Matthew August 3, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    ShaolinTiger: Yeah, was channel surfing and kebetulan saw you on TV, haha. I’ll see what episode 2 has to offer. πŸ™‚

  14. Kopertowki August 4, 2009 at 9:16 pm #

    I agree that Twitter could be the next big thing. It could become the next web marketing tool that should be counted as a major source of traffic to any blog that counts. I don’t like that idea but cannot disagree. I’m a little bit old fashion and I love blogs where people are just talking about their life, experiences and feelings. From some time I see that something is missing here. Blogs are being made just to earn money, not to talk about ourselves.

  15. ShaolinTiger August 5, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    s2k_247: Yah but Twitter themselves has to monetize the service somehow, how else to propose they keep providing what they do now without any income?

    y2kbug: Twitter uncool? It was never cool in the first place, it’s just another communication tool in the toolbox.

    Matthew: Cool, mine is episode 3 or 4 I think.

    Kopertowki: Yah I hope it doesn’t get saturated with marketing and ads because that will spoil the personal nature of it.

  16. Web PM Tom September 9, 2009 at 12:36 am #

    I could imagine that Twitter Advertising becomes quite big in the future.
    There are interesting concepts already realized on other social media sites like for example the sponsored diggs at digg.com

    my 2 cents,
    Thomas