Last Updated Apr 14, 2010 1:34 PM EDT
Here's how Twitter describes how it will implement the ad program:
- Ads come in the form of promotional tweets from advertisers.
- Promotional tweets at the start only come from a small group of advertisers: Best Buy (BBY), Sony Pictures (SNE), Virgin America, Bravo (NBCU), and Starbucks (SBUX).
- Promotional tweets appear only at the top of some search results and, then, only one per page.
I'm not arguing for more ads, mind you, but one ad per search page results? Sure, it lets them test some things out, but it also greatly limits revenue. My guess is that most Twitter users spend the bulk of their time actually reading or posting messages, not doing searches. So the company has greatly limited what it can make.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in the blog post that the company would eventually expand promotional tweets into users' time lines, the flow of messages they see. Have you ever watched a time line? The mass of material that floats by is huge, and you might only see a small portion because most people are not glued to watching Twitter. I understand that it's important to Twitter that the ads seem "organic" and part of the existing experience, but that's not what advertisers pay for. They want the ability to catch the attention of the audience and pull it away from everything else. Eventually, the investors who put so much money into the company will want those advertisers to be happy -- and pay money.
Either subtlety will go to the winds or Twitter's hope of making real money and keeping its investors happy will. My bet is that subtle winds up at the side of the road.