How can Twitter make money? It's the one question everyone has been asking and the one question Twitter hasn't been in a rush to answer.

But as Twitter continues to experience massive growth during a painful recession, revenue is a subject that Twitter probably shouldn't put off for too long.

There's a new sign that this may indeed be the case: ads have been spotted in the wild on Twitter.

Right now, the small ads that appear under a profile's vital stats are only promoting Twitter features but everyone who has seen them recognizes the potential: it wouldn't be hard for Twitter to sell these.

Obviously, they're simple. So was AdWords. Could these little ads do for Twitter what AdWords did for Google?

Probably not. The one thing AdWords had going for it that Twitter probably doesn't - pure intent - is crucial. Nevertheless, I could see lots of people purchasing these ads to promote themselves and their businesses.

If Twitter offered general targeting options based on demographic information and interests (based on an analysis of the content of a user's tweets), it just might have something really big, even if it isn't AdWords big. I know I'd probably buy some ads of my own just as an experiment.

Hopefully Twitter gives me and you that opportunity.

But Twitter also has to be careful. It doesn't want to squander its opportunity. If Twitter is to succeed financially, it can't become Facebook, which is plagued by low-quality ads promoting everything from diet programs to shady dating sites.

Quality, relevancy and decency should be top of mind as Twitter plans out an ad model. Given the time it has taken for Twitter to start experimenting, I'd like to believe it has been thinking about these things.

Patricio Robles

Published 17 March, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (2)



I actually don't think I would mind relevant ads on the RHS.

Pleased to see Twitter promoting their search feature, not sure how many people are aware of it. It's highly entertaining to watch a continuous search stream of hashtags on current topics!

Hoping that Twitter will implement a permanent (and larger) search box above the fold.

over 9 years ago



Not sure that pure intent will not or does not already exist on Twitter. 

Suppose someone comes on and is looking for a good programmer who can build applications on multiple platforms, ie facebook, iPhone etc.

So they post a question with a specific hashtag that also queries sponsored links to come up after they post their question.  They can then either add the sponsored links to their potential resources to use or do a follow on search with one or several they clicked and wanted to further consider.  

Becomes a dual stream, exposure and close loop, and further allows the user to then incorporate feedback on performance directly into the twitter stream and recommend the user for other projects.  

over 9 years ago

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