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Monetizing Twitter?

Monetizing Twitter?

A few weeks ago, Jeff Chandler reviewed Adjix on Performancing. Adjix lets Twitter users (or perhaps other microblogging services) monetize their accounts by shrinking URLs a-la tinyurl, but then puts up ads on the resulting page.

Based on the comment thread and the one on the follow-up post detailing an interview with Adjix’s CEO, readers mostly had negative impressions. Many were appalled at the thought of monetizing Twitter readership in this way. It was tantamount to facilitating spam, they say, and this would most likely result in loss of credibility. Others have commented that Adjix is impractical because of its use of frames rather than redirects, which effectively makes bookmarking difficult.

If you ask me, I don’t think monetizing Twitter is inherently bad. Much like blogging–initially blogging “pros” were perhaps seen as sellouts, going against the perceived independent nature of blogging. However, blog monetization has grown to be an accepted norm. It is writing, after all. It is publishing, after all. If you have ads on newspapers and magazine, why not blogs, right?

As for Twitter, Twitterrific does monetize by displaying ads in its freeware. New media mavens use Twitter and similar services to gain or share insider info or opinions. Twitter does have its business uses, like status messaging and collaboration, or perhaps getting customer feedback. But my opinion is that directly monetizing Twitter–or at least attempting to–still comes with that negative perception. Could this change anytime soon? Given the 140-character limits for each tweet, I think this needs creativity and luck to pull off.

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As an endnote, Jeff posts the results of his experiment on Performancing. With a grand total of $0.01, Jeff has his doubts.

View Comments (5)
  • This post sure got me thinking about how it could be done without “facilitating spam” and attracting more bogus tweets. This is an area to watch and I’ll be curious to see how it plays out, hopefully without the “loss of credibility” mentioned.

  • Angelo,

    Interesting perspective on monetizing Twitter. Having dicussed the topic with clients and colleagues, my view is that monetizing Twitter is what will end up kill it, unless the model provides substantial benefits to Twitterers.

  • Here’s how I suggest to moneytise Twitter, if you use my idea, please give me credit – thanks, Ling.

    OK, Adverts from Twitter served as Tweets in the same way adverts are served as adwords. (ie advertisers buy keywords or phrases but also with a time element).

    Each Tweetadvert is distinguished by (say) a special character or something denoting it is an official twitter advert (ie bought from Twitter the same way you PPC on adwords) therefore trustworthy and genuine, not spam.

    Need to use 2 more special reserved characters like @ and # (say “?” and “!”)… ?subject for request adverts, !subject for end adverts. Advert keywords are joined by underscores.

    Twitter verifies adverts and checks them in exactly the way Google does adwords, ie pretty strict. A campaign is booked and run very much like an adword campaign, in real time except there is an additional “now” time element (see below).

    Right here we go…

    People only get Twitter adverts if they request them! Absolutely no spam.

    Based on Twitter knowing your location. Say you want to fly to Quebec tomorrow, you tweet ?fly_quebec_tomorrow

    Twitter has sold the keywords to reputable businesses like Google does, so, it then serves you 20 tweets in the next 2 minutes with flight promotions which are personal and are designed for pretty immediate action (the Twitter USPs). You say wah! enough. You tweet !fly_quebec_tomorrow and the advert tweets stop.

    If you are not at home, the convention could be ?fly_quebec_ny_22082009_not_at_home and then the “not_at_home” will mean Twitter ignores your default location.

    Say you are hungry you can tweet ?pizza_now and within 2 minutes 5 local pizza promotions arrive. Ok, so one says something like “75% off marg+2tops if booked using code 98765 within 3 minutes http://bitly.etc

    I think, WOW that’s bloody damn cheap, I will retweet to Mark and Jamie as they might want pizza too. So it gets viralled. But because the time limit it gets viralled urgently. Like ORDER NOW!!!!!! Wah!

    So the advertiser gets permission based advertising paid at 1 tweet, but due to the re-tweet gets 3 for 1. We all get cheap pizza. We also get offers WE ASKED FOR.

    Not just blatant spam. Twitter adverts could be set to stop as default after 10 minutes. So you just get a blast of them. If you want more, you have another go.

    anything “_now” means you will make immediate (or very fast) decision on the adverts served. (ie you are ready to book the flight online within the next hour, or want to race for a pizza discount). This gives Twitter adverts a USP. I don’t think advertisers can get this any other way… maybe texts but that is more awkward and not as virallable or “follower” based.

    The advertiser gets 1 to 1 promotions with whatever restrictions they want, so it can go mad with discounts. Twitter knows who has been previously served, so the next pizza may only be 62.5% discount, etc. and an advert campaign can be based on stunning first offers.

    So, as an advertiser I would buy from Twitter “car_leasing” for UK Twitterers at £2.50 per requested tweet (same cost as adwords). I would make my advert Tweets (normal tweet length) very damn good and get web visitors or engage the Twitterer and hopefully viral at no cost to me.

    I would buy “car_leasing+now” adverts at a premium and make a webpage offer with ummm, free car mats or free £50 fuel (or whatever) if the proposal form arrives within 15 minutes. A McDonalds could target locals with iPhones and when ?food_now is tweeted at around 2:20pm serve the advert “whisper password DOGBREATH at McDonalds Leiceter Square b4 2:30, get FREE lg fries”. Would I jog over and whisper “DOGBREATH”? Possibly, yes! Do you see, Twitter could roll out permission based advertising with an URGENCY element..

    I would Tweet ?shoes_woman_cool and get several offers for “today only” or “this Saturday 22nd August at whatever local store buy 1 pair get 1 free” and the associated web address would have the store voucher if it is not for online purchase.

    I would a) spread the word “try tweeting ? shoes_woman_cool, ruth!” (leaving the space after the “?” would render it useless, Ruth would re-assemble it… or b) say “XXX do great offers, ask for their Tweet ads” or whatever. Advertisers will love it because it is targetted and therefore cannot distress their general market.

    I have probably exceeded 500 words.

    Twitter could start to sell these ads, everyone would love them, they are only permission based so no annoyance.

    Verdict? Can you improve?

  • Twtbuck is the latest service and closest to keeping the standards of Twitter by adopting keyword targeted advertising model. Its is like a google adwords-adsense combo for twitter where advertisers can advertise and twitter publishers can make money. Do have a look….you will love it!!

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