Twitter Rolls Out Ads. Still Not Making Money.
This decade's "It Startup," Twitter, has finally incorporated ads on the pages of its website. The rather unobtrusive text ads are cutely marked up as dictionary entries and appear in a sidebar below a user's stats and above their thumbnail mosaic of followed users. Currently, the ads are not present on mobile or desktop Twitter apps...yet.
The ad space first appeared on March 16 (right in the middle of South by Southwest Interactive) containing promotions for Twitter's search function and branded widget; however, by March 23, the space contained ads for third-party apps: Tweetie (an iPhone app), Twittervision, and ExecTweets.
The marketing community breathed a collective sigh of relief heard the blogosphere 'round: At long last, the Twitter team had settled on a business model.
Alas, that sigh was preemptive celebration; the ads are not generating revenue for Twitter. They are being run free of charge for the third-party sites. As the old timers would have it, "Hold the applause and drop your drawahs."
The third party sites have seen measurable spikes in traffic, as confirmed by some low-level online snooping; but this is no shocking revelation.
Another sad note in the "Evan Williams Ain't Makin' No Paper" saga is the Salesforce.com rollout of a Twitter-enabled CRM program. It's a great and necessary tool; this item is sad only because Twitter could (and perhaps should) have gotten to this first and made a viable business model out of creating paid or subscription tools for B2C accounts.
Yet another Twitter user reports seeing "suggested users" (Hey, look! It's Pete Cashmore!) on the sidebar in his UI (others have suggested the idea of "recommended users" as a path to monetization; see last paragraph). Julio also came up with some pretty good stream-parsing, relevant-ad-serving ideas that knock the current ad scheme outta the ring.
Details and eyelash-batting in the vid. Some of us picked the wrong time to quit drinking; this is a dark day for startups everywhere.