I was at the Ad Age Digital Conference in NYC last week when Twitter COO Dick Costolo did the “big reveal” and announced that Twitter finally had a revenue model: Sponsored Tweets. Twitter Blog
While the announcement certainly caused a stir in the twittersphere and blogosphere, including a visit to the conference by CNBC reporters, all I can say is… “really?”. After four years of contemplation, strategy sessions, discussions with investors, VC’s, strategic advisors, etc…. and “Promoted (sponsored) Tweets” is the best you could come up with?
For a company that is supposed to be breaking the mold and blazing a new path, this model feels used up and copycat.
The trepidation and uncertainty with which it was presented, leaving more questions than answers, also makes one wonder how much thought actually went into this (certainly very little testing did). It feels like Twitter is building a house of cards that is getting ever more delicate to try to monetize. In essence the answer to questions such as “How with the Twittersphere react to this?” were along the lines of, we have no idea but we came up with a totally innovative approach called “resonance” whereby if the promoted tweet doesn’t resonate with users we’ll turn it off. I wonder if we are starting to coddle users too much. Free services need revenue support to remain free. It would be nice if people LIKED advertising, but few do… yes, highly targeted relevant advertising is MORE useful, but does it “resonate”. Does anyone really PREFER to see advertising over a message from a friend? Will they?
Man up Twitter and put a stake in the ground that you stand behind (oh, and how about doing some in-depth testing of your ideas before launching so you know if they will be successful… after all, you have a lot at stake here).
Would anyone like to take a bet that the outcome will be:
1.) Users revolt and Twitter panics and shuts this down and goes back to no business model
2.) Users accept and this is a slippery slope to more intrusive sponsored tweets/advertising (ie. moving beyond just search results, and injecting into all live feeds, adding graphics, etc…)
Here is some related reading from Forbes
Twitters’ Overview of Promoted Tweets (140 second video)