Twitter Backtracking on Advertising Launch?

As we mentioned in a post yesterday, a Twitter executive suggested at a recent advertising industry conference that the company would soon be rolling out an official advertising platform, likely within the next month or so. Anamitra Banerji, head of product management and monetization at Twitter, made the comments in response to a question from a panel moderator at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, according to a story in Media Post. A source in the media industry also told us that Twitter was planning to launch its ad platform at SXSW in early March, and was working with some major media partners as well as some lesser-known ones.

Banerji now seems to be backtracking somewhat on his comments, however, or at least the timing that was referred to. In the Media Post story, writer Laurie Sullivan — who was in attendance at the advertising conference — described how moderator Seth Goldstein of asked the Twitter executive whether the company would “likely in the next month or so offer Twitter owned and operated ads,” to which Banerji replied, “That’s right.” In a Twitter conversation with TechCrunch writer Erick Schonfeld this morning, however, Banerji said (somewhat cryptically) that:

“Speculation = timing, imminence, details. Truth = thinking, planning, eventuality.”

The Twitter executive also noted that he had told the reporter “explicitly that [the] timing statement was completely inaccurate,” and pointed to a blog post from Seth Goldstein referring to the panel. In that post, Goldstein apologized to Twitter COO Dick Costolo, Banerji “and the rest of the team at Twitter for suggesting that I knew any more than I actually do.” He went on to say that he simply meant to refer to a statement from Costolo in November about advertising being in the works, and that: “It is unfortunate that our casual conversation about potential Twitter ad directions has been taken out of context to become ‘news’ when there really isn’t any.”

So what do we know for sure? That Twitter is working on rolling out an advertising platform. What we don’t know is the exact timing of that rollout, or what form it will take. Will the ads be simple 140-character tweets inserted into your stream, or will they be sponsored tweets similar to what and others offer? Will users be able to block them entirely or fine-tune which ones they see? Will advertising be open to anyone, or just major partners? For what it’s worth, the media industry source who spoke to us about Twitter’s plans for South by Southwest — which the source emphasized were tentative and not final — said that the company had been talking with some major and minor media industry partners and had been inviting them to attend the conference.

And when it comes right down to it, Twitter has been talking about launching an ad platform for almost six months now — what are they waiting for? They should just launch the darn thing and get on with making some money. If you happen to know anything about Twitter’s advertising plans, feel free to contact me at mathew at gigaom dot com or DM me on Twitter at @mathewi, or post a comment with the info.

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Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Daveness_98