Twitter’s Ad Platform Already Has Competition

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twitter_smallADOTAS – Despite a recent wave of developer angst over a migrating development strategy (hey, Apple’s dealing with the same stuff right now — maybe it’s the changing seasons), Twitter is launching its ad platform, which the company describes as simple but “nontraditional.”

Similar to Google, a Promoted Tweet — only one at a time — will appear at the top of a search page with some text that notes it’s of the sponsored variety. All the advertising is already an organic part of Twitter — anyone following the promoted tweeter will get the same tweet in their feed and they will have the same options such as retweeting and replying and favoriting.

A Promoted Tweet is going to be 140 characters or less that Twitter and its various algorithms believe will have an effect on a searcher. If it doesn’t “resonate” — e.g., get clicked or retweeted — Twitter will remove the ad and the buyer isn’t charged.

Eventually third-party developers will be able to integrate Promoted Tweets and receive a share of the revenue. Marketers hopping on board for “Phase 1” include Red Bull, Best Buy, Virgin America, Starbucks and Bravo.

However, a day earlier, Idealab launched startup website and ad platform Tweetup, a Twitter search engine that promises to raise an advertiser’s most relevant tweets to the top of the heap. It’s appeal to users is that it cuts out all the fat (or noise) and gives searches what its algorithms judge is the most pertinent information. Pubs can paste Tweetup on their sites and receive half of the ad revenue.

Advertisers can use the service to build a more targeted following. Currently advertisers can only bid by impression, but eventually Tweetup will enable the ability to bid on new followers and click-throughs to end sites.

Now why might advertisers bypass Twitter’s system for Tweetup? Because the man with the plan is Bill Gross; along with the kids at Idealab, he invented the model for paid search.

The general complaint about Twitter is that it’s a stadium booming with white noise. If Tweetup catches on with users and proves a more targeted experience, why would advertisers (especially the smaller and midsized) bother dealing with Twitter?

Also there’s the next phase of Twitter’s revenue plan, which is bound to make users grimace — apparently the microblogger is planning to display sponsored (but relevant) post in a user stream, search or no search. Sounds like what Google does: a user will see a promoted tweet based on what he or she has been posting about. That may get the much-feared “intrusive” tag.

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