There are several reasons why the recent unveiling of Twitter’s new advertising model has me conflicted in the worst way. The professional marketer in me drools at all the ways its estimated 75 million users can be sliced, diced and sold to the highest bidder…after all, I love what I do. And with 50 million tweets transmitted each day, I’m not the only one. Names like Best Buy Co., Bravo Media, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks Coffee Co. and Virgin America airlines are among the first to flock to the new “Promoted Tweets” strategy.
Adding to the potential revenue is the fact that Twitter only recently launched its new location-based platform. Enabling location-based tweeting — even once — will allow users to be drilled down even further and geo-targeted with ads and promoted tweets from regional providers of goods and services. The possibilities are limitless.
According to the company’s blog, Promoted Tweets will appear one at a time at the top of search results. They will be labeled “Promoted By” change color when rolled over. However, they will first blend into the timeline as regular Tweets would. If users don’t respond to a particular ad, by retweeting it or replying to it, the ad will simply disappear.
Ad Age reports, “While the company evaluates the program, the promoted tweets will appear only on Twitter.com. Stone said Twitter eventually wants to show those tweets on popular third-party clients like TweetDeck.”
That said, the Twitter-er in me (@ad_chick) is nervous. She likes the medium and knows that monetizing twitter is a slippery slope. If Biz Stone, et.al., succumb to the societal expectations for the site’s ad plans, Twitter can very easily follow in the ghostly footsteps of Myspace and Friendster alike.
How Twitter will fare in the ad dollars game remains to be seen. According to the site’s blog, the model is still a work in progress. In my opinion, to win the site will have to find a balance between making money and putting the user first. If they don’t, “followers” will see through this money-at-all-costs strategy and move on to the next (non-commercial) big thing.