Twitter is taking a small step to becoming a real business. In the first phase, Twitter will only display promotional messages as the top most tweet/message on the search results page of Twitter (Search.Twitter.com). Similar to search advertising, marketers will be required to purchase keywords for which they want to showcase their promotional messages.
While Twitter’s users send about 50 million messages a day, and the figure is growing quickly, it has been unclear how the company will support itself. Yes, the company raised a reported $100 million in September. And agreements with Microsoft and Google later in the year added perhaps a quarter as much. But the firm needs regular and larger injections of cash to sustain growth and fight off rivals like Facebook.
Yet, as its social networking competitor’s experience shows, making ads too intrusive may put off users. The start-up doesn’t need to further the perception that Twitter feeds are narcissistic and corporate exercises in self promotion. Its initial effort does a good job of plucking the goose while generating minimal hissing.
First, the ads will only show up for less than 10 percent of users. Over time, this figure will presumably rise, but it gives time for customers to get used to the idea of sponsored tweets. Second, ads that users don’t forward or mark as favorites will be deleted. This ensures customers will only find promotions deemed to be useful or at least minimally entertaining. And advertisers will know their ad dollars are being spent wisely.