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Bill Gross Launches TweetUp, Twitter Search With Sponsored Tweets

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Just as the growth of blogs opened up a space for dedicated blog search sites and filters, so, too, the twittersphere may have reached that point… founder Bill Gross’ take on the idea is TweetUp, a search service that shows users relevant and influential tweets – if their authors pay for the privilege.

Prompted by search input, TweetUp uses both a relevance algorithm and a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) AdSense-style keyword bidding marketplace to compile tweets and tweeters, then will serve the results through third parties on a revenue-share basis, including the Seesmic and Twidroid clients; websites (NSDQ: ANSW), Business Insider and PopURLs; plus TwitterFeed and Klout.

This method, Gross reckons, “pushes the best tweets to the top of the results of users’ searches”, and it “enables serious tweeters to expand their following quickly and cost-effectively”.

Gross has raised $3.5 million for the effort, led by Index Ventures and from Betaworks, Steve Case’s Revolution LLC, First Round Capital, Jason Calacanis and Jeff Jarvis.

If it works, TweetUp may end up creating a Google-esque business model for the emerging, leapfrogging Twitter itself to making a real business model from the service in the process. It’s tempting to view it as a Technorati for Twitter.

But if there’s a problem, it may be that tweets authors have paid for users to see aren’t necessarily the “best” tweets – TweetUp may be of more interest to marketers courting eyeballs than creators seeking audiences.

Gross’ explanation to Kara Swisher is telling…

I worked really, really hard to make a great tweet during the Copenhagen (climate) conference. I typed in ‘#Copenhagen’, I saw my tweet there and was all excited.

“When I typed it in again five seconds later, I was already pushed off the screen by ‘Where do I find mittens in Copenhagen?’, ‘I hate Copenhagen’ and ‘What’s going on in Copenhagen?’.

“I thought, there’s got to be a way to take something that’s more substantive and have it stick around for more than seven seconds.

“I read every single tweet at TED. Ten thousand tweets went by at TED, and maybe 300 great ones.”

Twitter has long operated a one-size-fits-all “suggested followers” list, and popular client TweetDeck – in which Betaworks also invested – also recognized the problem of discoverability last year by introducing its curated TweetDeck Directory of hot tweeters. TweetUp’s twin challenge will be to improve on these offerings – and to hope users aren’t affronted by seeing sponsored tweets in their results.

“TweetUp is to Twitter what Google is to the web,” Gross tells Thing is, the specific importance of dedicated blog search engines and aggregators has waned as blogs have become merely part of the web. Whether the same will happen of Twitter, we don’t know yet.

4 Responses to “Bill Gross Launches TweetUp, Twitter Search With Sponsored Tweets”

  1. creativefeed

    @Devin Jens – we hope not but it is very much possible.

    As an active user of Twitter, @CreativeFeed is curious about the effectiveness and functionality of this service.

    * Will paid vs. organic search results dilute the user experience of a genuine and open social community?

    * What will happen to the companies that don’t pay for keywords? Other services that involve paid search results have been labeled as cyber extortioners.

  2. Devin Jens

    This is an absurd idea.

    The content will (of course) be terrible, and so it will be ignored by consumers. So the cost that marketers will need to pay will be too high for the value that can be extracted from a follower.

    Bill Gross does NOT understand Twitter.

  3. Media Shop Maven

    Edit: However, the description of TweetUp sounds like another avenue for advertisers to use their financial muscle to further bombard users with their messages.

  4. Media Shop Maven

    Hmmmm, I’m skeptical (but what else is new). It would be great if this tool allowed people to better find the more grassroots tweets that have interesting information that larger media organizations have overlooked. However, the description of TweetUp sounds like another avenue for advertisers to use their financial muscle to move their further bombard users with their messages.