UPDATE: Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone now says in a blog post the company has “no official business arrangement” with Twitterpartners, contrary to NMA’s report. Stone says he’s spoken to the people involved and wishes them well, but says the “suggestion that Twitter has some kind of equity partnership or an agreement of any kind in place is misleading and wrong. We’ll be working with Peter and his team to clear up this confusion.”
Original: It has phenomenal growth and faddish mainstream buzz but maybe now — finally — someone may start to make money from Twitter. Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED), the Parlophone-signed band Gorillaz, Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG) and Paramount are among the eight brands signed up for the launch of Twitterpartners, a consortium set up to manage companies’ reputations and profiles on the micro-blogging site. NMA reports that Twitter is backing the company and is taking an equity stake in the business (see update, above). Twitterpartners is a privately-held, London-based business founded in March this year, according to a Companies House search.
The man behind the scheme is Music Nation chairman and former VNU/Nielsen Entertainment Group president Peter Read, who as chairman has brought on a stellar cast of advisors: Lastminute.com founders Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman are on board as are Lovefilm co-founder Saul Klein and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) EVP Toby Coppel.
The service, which launched this week, has 12 ad agency partners already including Unamis and Salesforce and says it is “building a suite of apps, tools and services to help brands, media companies, and celebrities harness the power of the Twitter ecosystem.” Countless brands, companies and celebs already use Twitter to flagrantly publicise themselves — but this a formal ad partnership business designed to boost profiles and run properly researched campaigns the 140-character way, using traditional marketing strategies. Read says, via NMA: “Ad placements can’t be bought on Twitter at the moment. But our relationship helps to broker brands onto the platform as we have detailed exposure to what works.” More after the jump…
Read adds that Twitter remains a technology company with about 30 staff and while its excited about approaches from record labels and the like, “it doesn’t have the people to handle this interest, so it’s happy to send them our way.“. Further ahead, Twitterpartners will move into launching commercial Twitter products in partnership with its brands. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) recently allowed advertisers to stream Tweets on its AdSense network, so there may still be a direct ad revenue route for Twitter yet — but it seems much more likely is that the instant information sharing aspect of the service is used to promote brands through partnerships like this.