Q of the Week: Twitter’s Ad Potential

Earlier this week, we asked whether Twitter could build a large-scale ad platform. The company’s now talked about as worth $10 billion, despite only taking in $45 million in revenue last year. Some point to the lightening-fast success of Charlie Sheen on Twitter as justification for the high hopes pinned on Twitter. Still, Twitter has been cautious in introducing advertising — for good reason. A small tweak to its iPhone app over the weekend added what Twitter dubs the “Quick Bar.” It flashes hot trending topics from time to time, including ad messages. The move provoked howls from bloggers, some of which quickly dubbed the new feature the “Dick Bar.” Twitter clearly has a tough balancing act in monetizing the service and not alienate a fickle user base. We asked a variety of industry leaders for their thoughts on the question: “Can Twitter build a large-scale ad platform?” Excerpts of their responses are below.


At the end of the day, advertisers follows eyeballs. Twitter has eyeballs, raw analytics and mobile access for local marketing, but its platform is still very young and is disadvantaged compared with Facebook given much of its usage is distributed vs. driving traffic to a marketers destination within its platform. However, it’s just a matter of time, which might be a few years, which before Twitter creates a solution that scales for marketers and themselves.
— Bryan Wiener, CEO of 360i
I think it’s much more important from a marketer’s point of view that they build an ad platform that generates genuine influencer interaction with brands, with meaningful outcomes, than that they generate billions of impressions. There are infinite impressions out there, as we know. The problem ain’t quantity, it’s quality.
— Jonah Bloom, former editor in chief, Advertising Age
Micro-blogging with mass advertising just seems like a force fit to me. Sure, mass market brands can still do it and hit their wide targets. But let’s face it, it’s gonna add more clutter, even if it’s fairly database-informed by keywords and spheres of followers… It won’t improve the user experience, only Twitter’s bottom line.
— Alan Segal, creative director, The Off Switch
Twitter itself won’t be able to scale ads or keywords like Google, not even close. The environment is too ADD. That doesn’t mean brands won’t be able to benefit greatly from meaningful interactions if done right. Quality of follows and earned advocacy should be the focus.
— Michael Moon, partner at Silvermine

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