Mathew Ingram writing about Twitter, and how Twitter sees itself, has this to say:
But as its advertising business grows larger — thanks in part to reports from advertisers of “staggering” levels of engagement with ad features like promoted tweets — and it continues to tighten the rules on its API to squeeze out third-party developers, it becomes more and more clear that Twitter’s future is based on controlling access to the information flowing through the network as closely as possible.
I hadn’t seen the article that Ingram linked to for the “staggering engagement” quote, but in reading the link it is very encouraging news for Twitter. Perhaps all this talk about Twitter is starting to get old, but it is fascinating to me.
Facebook is using the same old boring business model of display ads, and while Twitter is doing the same — Twitter’s platform is so very different from any other that we don’t yet know how this will play out. I was very worried when I heard Twitter was going to start injecting ads in people timelines, but in practice I hardly notice these ads.
That said, I hardly notice the ads.
Perhaps I am exceptionally good at filtering them out, or perhaps the ads being shown to be are mostly irrelevant to me. No matter which it is, this is the problem with ads for services like Twitter. Luckily(?) Twitter knows this and that is why they are trying to have complete control over how Tweets (and thus ads) are displayed.
All of that you could likely guess, but then I was thinking about how to optimize the ads displayed on Twitter, and an interesting idea hit me. What if the ads shown in my Timeline were shown at the precise right moment when I might act on them?
What if I tweet: “Looking for a good lunch spot in Portland…suggestions?” And in my mentions tab Twitter promotes a lunch deal from P.F. Chang’s which happens to be two blocks from me? I’d say there is a high probability1 that this ad would get me to P.F. Chang’s. What if I send a tweet asking about a product and that product then is promoted in my timeline? Now we are at a place where I am interested in something, wanting and ready to buy it.
So that was my thought, then I realized: I bet Twitter could make more money by charging companies a fee and in return Twitter would serve up a site with all the chatter surrounding that company — which then the company could directly respond to. Now that seems like a killer feature. No need to keep searching for keywords, it’s all packaged up for you and delivered to your PR team. Someone tweets they want lunch in Portland, every paying restaurant has a chance to respond and try to get that customer in their door — I think that could be pretty cool for business and users.
I love me some P.F. Chang’s. ↩