Twitter has been very quiet about its advertising model, but Peter Kafka over at AllThingsD has some details about what advertising approved by the micro blogging site could look like. If his sources are correct, it could look a lot like Google.
But there's one problem with that plan. Twitter has not proven that it has any skills in search.
According to AllThingsD:
- Ads will be tied to Twitter searches, in the same way that Google’s (GOOG) original ads were. So a search for, say, “laptop,” may generate an ad for Dell (DELL). The ads will only show up in search results, which means users who don’t search for something won’t see them in their regular Twitterstreams.
- The ads will use the Twitter format–140 or fewer characters–and will be distributed via the third-party software and services that use Twitter’s API. The services will have the option of displaying the ads, and Twitter will share revenue with those that do.
- Twitter will work with ad agencies and buyers to seed the program, but plans on moving to a self-serve model like Google’s, down the road.
It's a smart strategy, if only because it will avoid deluging Twitter users unaccustomed to advertising on the service.
But search is one of Twitter's weakest functions. Currently, Twitter info is only available for a few days and there's no way to drill down into the results. If the company can improve on this functionality, users may use it more often.
But search engines like Google and Bing are already integrating real-time searches into their alogrithms, meaning that consumers may just go elsewhere to mine Twitter for data. There's little to prove that Twitter is up to the task of competing with established companies in this area.
However, since Twitter has said that it doesn't plan to base its entire business plan on advertising, this could be just a small way for he company to boost its bottom line rather than the big revenue news that everyone was expecting at SxSW that failed to come to fruition.
Really investing in search could eat up a lot of time and money. And while Twitter has a $100 million funding round to burn through, really investing in search could burn through a lot of that. But until more information comes out, we'll just have to wait and see.