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Summary:

Twitter will roll out an official advertising platform likely within the next month or so, Anamitra Banerji, head of product management and monetization at Twitter, said while on a panel at a conference on Monday. Will advertising change your experience or make you use Twitter less?

Updated: Twitter will roll out an official advertising platform, likely within the next month or so, one of the company’s executives told an advertising-industry conference, according to a report in Media Post. Anamitra Banerji, head of product management and monetization at Twitter, apparently made the comment in response to a question from a panel moderator at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting on Monday.

Update: According to one source in the media industry, Twitter may launch its new advertising platform at the South by Southwest conference, which starts March 12. The social network is apparently working with several major partners for the launch, including “new and traditional media,” the source said. Choosing the music and interactive media conference to usher in the advertising platform would be fitting, since the use of Twitter during Sarah Lacy’s interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at SXSW in 2007 was seen by many as a tipping point for the service.

Twitter is working on an ad platform, Banerji reportedly told Media Post following the panel, but currently it’s “only in the test phase.” People are constantly “talking and engaging with brands, sharing their feedback,” during events such as the SuperBowl, he said during the panel, asking the conference delegates: “What if brands start to participate?” He added that the company will make it “explicitly clear that a sponsor” paid for the ad, and make it “relevant and useful, so the user doesn’t think of it as an ad.”

Twitter recently revealed that it has grown to the point where it is receiving and distributing 50 million tweets a day, or about 600 every second. That puts the social network up in Facebook territory. With that kind of growth, it makes sense that the company would want to take advantage of that user base and provide advertisers with a way to reach and target them. What remains to be seen is how the service implements ads, and whether or not users revolt against the commercialization of their social network.

There are already several companies trying to take advantage of advertising in Twitter streams, including IZEA — formerly known as PayPerPost — and Ad.ly, which allegedly pays celebrities like Kim Kardashian thousands of dollars to tweet about various products and services. It will be interesting to see what happens to these and other “sponsored tweet” services when Twitter eventually rolls out its official platform.

Some Twitter users say they will stop using the service if advertising becomes prevalent in their streams (but may be willing to pay a fee to keep it out), while others say that they welcome advertising and look forward to having Twitter target them based on the hashtags or keywords they use. What do you think? Will advertising change your experience or make you use Twitter less?

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

How Human Users Are Holding Twitter Back

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user (michelle)

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  1. If these are text ads and they are targeted at queries then they will get sued by Yahoo imho.

    1. Why do you say that, Tolleson?

      1. Overture owns the patent on targeting ads to search queries. They successfully sued Google prior to their IPO and received a $500M settlement. Yahoo will come after them if they target text ads to searches.

    2. Ah, I see — thanks.

  2. If it’s in the stream, as it seems, then yeah… that’s pretty annoying. But c’mon, one Tweet is so ephemeral, if you’ve got a few hundred followers, it’s off your stream so fast it might as well not have existed.

    And there’s the problem with Twitter advertising. It has to be in the stream – not enough people use Twitter.com to Tweet – and the stream is so very transient that an ad has no lasting value.

  3. Hey Mathew,

    I think it depends on what form the platform takes.

    From the article it appears that it will be focused on conversations surrounding events (similar to the Facebook connect successes with Superbowl, Obama inauguration, etc) – in that case it could be very successful for brands as long as they have the right people who listen, connect and interact appropriately.

    One thing that Twitter must allow is the ability for me to block brands from my Twitterstream so I can control my experience.

    We’ll see what transpires :)

    David

    1. I agree, David — there should be controls available to tune the advertising out if users wish to (which many will).

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  8. FYI – I think the Sarah Lacy/Mark Zuckerberg flare up happened at SXSW in 2008.

    1. Thanks, Jim — you are quite right. I got the 2007 tipping point and the Lacy interview mixed up. I will have to fix that.

  9. iptiam (iPad, Therefore I am) Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    So basically twitter has become a place for breaking news and sharing links. thats about it.

    They need to have a solid monetization plan, something like adwords for google. with 140 characters and mostly bit.ly links, i suspect thats going to be difficult.

    As for the location based stuff, what percentage of users are we talking anyways?

  10. The danger here, as with any new platform, is that thoughts immediately turn to how to monetize the experience through advertising (the same thing is happening with moblie-social platforms). Social platforms, as you point out, have specific, unwritten rules about what’s acceptable or not – and those rules are written by the people who use the platform, as much or more so than by the platform owners. You didn’t have this dynamic in traditional channels, which gave platform owners (networks, radio stations, publishers) the ability to monetize with little push-back from the consumers of the content. Now that the users are both the creators and the consumers of the content, traditional monetization models are difficult to overlay here. The trouble is, there’s not enough creativity in how to monetize these things that don’t interfere with the experience. Immediately the thought goes to an interruption of the experience by advertising within a Tweet, which personally doesn’t do anything for me. Where I’ve seen value both for a brand and the user is when the brand can bring something to the table that wouldn’t have been available otherwise. In the Twitter sense, I think the ability to aggregate the conversations and bring it to the user in a convenient way has more value than pushing a marketing message in a single tweet. Even in the aggregation approach, branding should be light, and the content and value to the consumer should be clear. Here’s one example I worked on last year: http://bit.ly/bWmLAe A bit brand-heavy, too, but the concept is there. This might be one approach that Twitter will take, as opposed to marketing within Tweets. There are other examples of this since we did this one, including some good ones around the Olympics.

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