Friday, April 9, 2010

#141 - Finally, Twitter's "Big Plan" is revealed

Surely you've heard the big news...just prior to Twitter's annual conference (Chirp) kick-off this week, the social media mini-blogging king commenced sales of what it has dubbed, Sponsored Tweets (or ads as I call them), in a business model nearly six years in the making.

I first caught the news at and went in search of details on what this means to advertisers and Twitter users. I found the graphic above (provided by Twitter) at Mashable.

Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone has been interviewed ad nauseum this week, both on and off-line. In an interview with's Chloe Albanesius, he said, "We strongly believe that Promoted Tweets should be useful to you. Promoted Tweets will be clearly labeled as 'promoted' when an advertiser is paying, but in every other respect they will first exist as regular Tweets and will be organically sent to the timelines of those who follow a brand."

Are you really following brands on Twitter or did you (like many) think you were there to connect with people - your friends - and network within your industry? I'm actually curious.

As a service, Sponsored Tweets
has been labeled "simple," and that it is. Its brilliantly timed launch came with all the major partners locked in - Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America. These companies' ads already appear as tweets atop search results that relate to their products. I'm betting this will work out very well for early advertisers. Those who rush to embrace it will benefit from the added traffic as everyone checks out the new format.

While many details are still forthcoming (like how much these ads will cost smaller companies), Twitter users can now find sponsored tweets in the standard stream, where presumably, a Starbucks ad should appear if you search for coffee, and a Sony Pictures tweet should show up if you search for the latest film release.

But here's the rub...according to Twitter's co-founders, if users don't respond to the newly Promoted Tweets (by re-tweeting, favoriting, or replying to them), the sponsored tweets will be pulled from search results. "What? My ad was what?" (I can just imagine the client calls to their social media reps.) This presents an interesting and quite unique dilemma. If a sponsored tweet fails to generate results, does the advertiser pay? Who is ultimately responsible for the failure and who determines how much time a campaign is given to succeed? You know I'll be following this story closely as it unfolds.

Only one promoted tweet is planned for display per each search results page, reportedly to protect us from overuse of this new advertising channel. That means twitter can charge a premium on a finite supply of ad space. (Very smart!)

What do you think? Are you ready for advertising on Twitter? Are you at all put off by the appearance of sponsored tweets in the tweet stream? Most of the social media pundits I've read seem to agree that it's time Twitter found some way to capitalize on its popularity, and Sponsored Tweets is merely the lesser of all the "evils" or options available.

Of course, like anything in the brave new world of social media, time will tell. Let's take a quick poll to start things rolling. Are you OK with sponsored tweets, or, would you much rather Twitter choose anther path to profit? please share in the comments section below.

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