Twitter to turn on advertising "you will love" (here's how: SuperTweet)

Twitter’s COO, Dick Costolo, today, at the TechCrunch Real Time Crunchup (live video of the conference is live now on building43, there will be lots of news all day long from this event), told the audience that Twitter is, indeed, going to turn on an advertising model.

This is a huge shift in what Twitter is saying publicly.

But advertising isn’t something many people love. So, how will Twitter make advertising you love?

By building a SuperTweet!

How can they do that?

Well, yesterday, I talked with Likaholix co-founder Bindu Reddy about just that. You can watch our video we recorded about how Twitter could make new advertising, which I say is a piece of building a SuperTweet.

So, what is a SuperTweet?

Well, first, some rules for building new ads and features for Twitter that people will love.

1. You can’t mess with the Tweet. That’s sacrosanct. So, we’re stuck with the 140 character rules, along with the rules of @replies and hashtags and all that.
2. You may NOT introduce new ad models inside the Tweet. You may NOT put ads inside Tweets.
3. You may NOT introduce new ads that look like Tweets.

So, what is a SuperTweet?

It is a Tweet with a metadata payload.

Think about all the metadata that exist OUTSIDE of the Tweet. How about you mouse-over a Tweet to see a new slide-down UI that shows you all the metadata.

What kinds of metadata do we already have?

1. How many times has the tweet been retweeted.
2. Where was the Tweet produced (geolocation).
3. What’s the tag cloud associated with the Tweet (get that from list names).
4. What tool produced the Tweet?
5. What are associated Tweets?
6. What are tweets in reply to this tweet?

But what else could we automatically generate?

Well, let’s say I wrote a Tweet saying “I’m going to see 2012 tonight.”

Couldn’t we tag that Tweet with the word “movie?” Like you can tag a photo on Flickr? Absolutely!

Couldn’t we have a bot that sees that 2012 and movie came through the system and then link to the IMDB database for the movie 2012, like this? Couldn’t you link to Fandango for movie reviews and movie times for 2012, like this?

So, add that all onto the tile that slides underneath this new “SuperTweet.”

But what else?

If CocaCola wants to target movie goers, couldn’t they put an ad into this SuperTweet? Something like “Drink Coke at the movies, show this tweet at the movie theater and get $1 off off a Coke.”

NOW you are getting how advertising could be something you love!

How about a Tweet that talks about a book. Someone could write “Loved Trust Agents by Brogan.” That could link to Amazon so you could put it on your Kindle.

There is ton of things that Twitter could do here to bring ads that people love, thanks to a SuperTweet infrastructure, and yes, I will love it.

By the way, two companies already are showing me advertising I love: Foursquare, which shows me offers from businesses nearby where I check in, and Yelp, who also shows me offers from businesses nearby. These are HUGE value ads for both consumers and businesses and if Twitter ads this new kind of advertising to a SuperTweet they will make billions of dollars.

I’m actually happy that Twitter is getting off of its “no advertising” stance and thinking about SuperTweets.

How about you?

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. Interesting – I have been wondering how Biz would monetize the platform. My one thought – if “I” wrote the tweet – and “YOU” put an ad on my Tweet (in the manner you discussed)… what is the benefit to ME?

    Twitter – it's their platform… but the content is mine. What is in it for me?

    Would there be an option that allows ME to opt-out of having ads on my content? or would there be an adsense like benefit to me? thoughts???

    http://www.think-ebiz.com/2009/07/twitter-monet

  2. I wouldn't be the one to put an ad on your Tweet: that's Twitter's job. But I might tag your Tweet.

    How would it help you? I see this helping readers more than writers. But, why couldn't Twitter share affiliate revenue with me? I could put in my Amazon account and if you bought a book from my Tweet maybe Twitter keeps $.50 and I get $1.50. So there's a revenue potential for Twitterers.

    But, I get goodness just by checking in on Foursquare and Yelp. Finding out about other restaurants similar to the restaurants I'm searching for, for instance, and getting offers from them to cross the street.

    1. “I see this helping readers more than writers.”

      That’s why it’s a #fail. The relevance on the ads is based on the tweet’s content, which isn’t something in my control, so the relevance of the ad to ME is questionable at best.

    2. “I see this helping readers more than writers.”

      That’s why it’s a #fail. The relevance on the ads is based on the tweet’s content, which isn’t something in my control, so the relevance of the ad to ME is questionable at best.

    3. “I see this helping readers more than writers.”

      That’s why it’s a #fail. The relevance on the ads is based on the tweet’s content, which isn’t something in my control, so the relevance of the ad to ME is questionable at best.

    4. “I see this helping readers more than writers.”

      That’s why it’s a #fail. The relevance on the ads is based on the tweet’s content, which isn’t something in my control, so the relevance of the ad to ME is questionable at best.

  3. Definitely useful ads that I would love, but not sure how all this is nontraditional, which is what he said they would be. Of course, it's not display ads, which is great, but targeted advertising like this (just as you mentioned with FourSquare and Yelp already do).

  4. Have you EVER seen ads that bring you value based on the content of your own Tweets? I haven't. This kind of stuff would blow away Google's ads, for instance.

  5. Valid point. I was mostly pointing out that he made it sound like a nontraditional form of advertising, not that it was just nontraditional because it was being used with Tweets. I agree it's a great idea and people will embrace it, I just wonder if there are other things they are thinking about.

  6. Nope – but that's not because the technology is lacking, really (well, maybe in part). It's mostly down to the advertising mind-set.

    People who work in ad agencies have around 50 years of cultural heritage based on a single insight: No one actually wants to see their ads. What this means is that they write copy and create images with this in mind. They use tools like heavy repetition, “in your face” images – everything is designed from the ground up to interrupt, grab attention, get the messages across as fast as possible.

    This is the antithesis of creating *useful* content, which is what you're talking about Robert. And the problem is that I just can't see the advertising industry switching to the mind-set of “we're making stuff which people WANT” very quickly.

    That means one thing: A lot of the first ads of this sort will follow the same old rules as “old school” advertising. They'll assume that the viewer doesn't want them, so use all the same old attention-grabbing, repetitious stuff which advertising has always had to do. Will Twitter (the company) prevent them from going it? Depends on how much they need the money.

    All of this will change, of course, as the ad industry gets its head around the idea that they can create content people want, as opposed to want to avoid. But it isn't going to be overnight.

  7. You are totally look at this wrong.

    If I put a link to Amazon in here do you realize that I get paid for that? Now, why couldn't Twitter do that algorithmically?

    And Yelp already is proving you WAY WRONG.

    So is Google. Ads on Google are short and mostly on point. If they aren't they don't work and no one gets paid.

  8. I think that it is a great move, Twitter is a free resource and they must make money to make it sustainable. Ultimately twitter has to be a business and it needs funding… go for it guys

  9. I thought the same thing, the payload (meta) that can be used for each tweet will be used.

    I suspect images, video and audio will be added as a payloads soon.

    I am thinking they will share this advertising system with developers.

    Each tweet will come with an advert based on its content and then developers can choose what to do with the ad. The developer will make money when the user clicks on an ad(much like adsense).

  10. The general idea of targeting advertising based on content is not traditional. Hint: It's been around for a while.

  11. Yea but it's all the other data not ad based but content based which
    is the biggest aspect of this. All the other stuff that will be
    crammed into these tweets. Btw the name supertweet is a home run.
    Simple playful fun.

  12. It's idealistic, I suppose, but it's nice to think that advertising could become a helpful tool, rather than an annoyance. If Coke wants to put metadata on a tweet saving me a dollar off my movie ticket, I won't complain.

  13. Robert, if I had a pound for every time you've told me I'm totally wrong and I've gone on to be proved right, I'd have £38.50 (I'll split the original importance of Twitter with you).

    Google ads? Seriously? Do you think those are proving to be useful to people?

  14. Agree with Robert. I think people are used to ads and that's why the best ads are the ones that work. Ads in Twitter and in the web in general are very likely… unavoidable. Can you imagine Google without ads? There would be no Gmail, no Wave, no Reader, no Docs, no nothing. We would have an ok search engine with a regular stock price. Google has benefited from ads, and so have its users.

    So, while I agree that Twitter's anti-ad stance has been good (because they have focused on the service and the buzz, instead of short-term gains that alienate visitors), I do think it is smart for them to think of unique ways to integrate advertising. Will I be annoyed? Maybe. Will the masses revolt? Maybe. But, Facebook users revolt with EVERY single change that Facebook does. And then they forget because the changes are sometimes good. And when they're not, well, they try to apologize and adapt.

    Change is scary. But change is good. If Twitter gets it right, they might become a very solid company. If they don't, users will find something else.

    Is doing nothing the solution? Never.

  15. The only question I have:

    Twitter is used a lot through clients, not the website. What is described here makes sense for Twitter’s own website. But how will they force all the clients to show all the ads? And what does it even mean? E.g you cannot show “ads on hover” on iPhone, as there is no “hover” action.

  16. The only question I have:

    Twitter is used a lot through clients, not the website. What is described here makes sense for Twitter’s own website. But how will they force all the clients to show all the ads? And what does it even mean? E.g you cannot show “ads on hover” on iPhone, as there is no “hover” action.

  17. Interestingly though, a tweet doesn't live on Twitter only. Which means that any app that chooses not to display this “meta-ad-information” immediately becomes 100% better/clutterfree than all those that do.

  18. Interestingly though, a tweet doesn't live on Twitter only. Which means that any app that chooses not to display this “meta-ad-information” immediately becomes 100% better/clutterfree than all those that do.

  19. Interestingly though, a tweet doesn't live on Twitter only. Which means that any app that chooses not to display this “meta-ad-information” immediately becomes 100% better/clutterfree than all those that do.

  20. Revenue sharing. Dick Costolo said they would do that with their partners in the Twitter ecosystem. Believe me, if there's a paycheck every developer will add the ability to display SuperTweets.

  21. Yah.. today many clients are actually showing their own ads already in free versions. I guess from their perspective it does not make a big difference, they could just abandon their own custom ad system and start showing Twitter-provided ads instead.

  22. You say,”…blow away Google's ads, for instance.” Google spends a lot of money to get it right most of the time. So to make that reference is a stretch don't you think?

  23. Imagine the fun when Twitter decides to monetize Mr. Scoble’s posts by sticking ads on them: not for Rackspace, but for Rackspace’s competitors.

    I really don’t want some adbot to scan my posts & inject advertisements into them whenever I happen to use a word that Twitter has monetized.

    “But…but…these ads will be unobtrusive! They will be relevant!” No, they won’t. And if by some accident they start out unobtrusive & relevant, they will not remain so very long.

  24. Imagine the fun when Twitter decides to monetize Mr. Scoble’s posts by sticking ads on them: not for Rackspace, but for Rackspace’s competitors.

    I really don’t want some adbot to scan my posts & inject advertisements into them whenever I happen to use a word that Twitter has monetized.

    “But…but…these ads will be unobtrusive! They will be relevant!” No, they won’t. And if by some accident they start out unobtrusive & relevant, they will not remain so very long.

  25. Imagine the fun when Twitter decides to monetize Mr. Scoble’s posts by sticking ads on them: not for Rackspace, but for Rackspace’s competitors.

    I really don’t want some adbot to scan my posts & inject advertisements into them whenever I happen to use a word that Twitter has monetized.

    “But…but…these ads will be unobtrusive! They will be relevant!” No, they won’t. And if by some accident they start out unobtrusive & relevant, they will not remain so very long.

  26. Imagine the fun when Twitter decides to monetize Mr. Scoble’s posts by sticking ads on them: not for Rackspace, but for Rackspace’s competitors.

    I really don’t want some adbot to scan my posts & inject advertisements into them whenever I happen to use a word that Twitter has monetized.

    “But…but…these ads will be unobtrusive! They will be relevant!” No, they won’t. And if by some accident they start out unobtrusive & relevant, they will not remain so very long.

  27. I think what stephenharris meant was, that I as the poster can opt-out of Twitter making my tweets into supertweets. I may not want any sort of tagging or advertising to happen, ever. Then again… you cannot opt out of Google displaying sponsored links next to your pages coming up in search results. Still, opt-out for original poster would be a nice move here, I don’t think many people would actually opt out.

  28. 1$ off off Coca Cola !? Yeah! I'll love it. :)

    Btw, its been years all are wondering how Twitter is gonna make money out of its free service. And finally it seems like super tweet is the answer!

  29. It does sound like advertising we would all love and shouldn't advertising make customers happy? I mean if you want to attract more customers then SuperTweet them.

  30. It DOES sound like advertising that we would all love. And shouldn't advertising be lovable instead of annoying, anyway? I mean if you're trying to attract people…

  31. This is a very good move, will separate the wanna be's from the true practitioners of Social Marketing

  32. Perhaps I am misunderstanding something, Robert, but could you please comment on:

    1. How would Twitter infer semantics from 140 characters? It would be awfully inaccurate, unless my tweet includes a URL which they can index and use as a base for matching.

    2. Wouldn’t that click/hover trigger only work on twitter.com? What about other clients?

    Cheers,

  33. Perhaps I am misunderstanding something, Robert, but could you please comment on:

    1. How would Twitter infer semantics from 140 characters? It would be awfully inaccurate, unless my tweet includes a URL which they can index and use as a base for matching.

    2. Wouldn’t that click/hover trigger only work on twitter.com? What about other clients?

    Cheers,

  34. Perhaps I am misunderstanding something, Robert, but could you please comment on:

    1. How would Twitter infer semantics from 140 characters? It would be awfully inaccurate, unless my tweet includes a URL which they can index and use as a base for matching.

    2. Wouldn’t that click/hover trigger only work on twitter.com? What about other clients?

    Cheers,

  35. Perhaps I am misunderstanding something, Robert, but could you please comment on:

    1. How would Twitter infer semantics from 140 characters? It would be awfully inaccurate, unless my tweet includes a URL which they can index and use as a base for matching.

    2. Wouldn’t that click/hover trigger only work on twitter.com? What about other clients?

    Cheers,

  36. Robert – a few points – sorry for the length seems to have hit a passionate button in me..
    1) My Tweets, My content – I should have the right to opt-out of having ad's places on my tweet. I realize they active only on hover or click.. still. Consider – lets say i work for Pepsi – i dont want to have a coke ad on my content. Or worse – i dont drink soda… why would i endorese the same.
    2) My Tweets, My content – I should be able to reap the benefits – share the benefits if i allow twitter to places ads on my content. Of course, I can opt out – by stopping my usage of twitter… which is not what anyone would want (well maybe they would want ME to lol)

    same with amazon – if the algorithm sees a ref to a book – they should reward me as well as twitter for having this ad. BUT again – what if hate amazon and prefer BN – my content.. i should be able to say no.

    3) Ads in google are different. I opt in by adding adsense code to my blog… and i reap benefits by doing so. However, Google doesn;'t make me do it… my content.. my rules. and their ads.. on their search engine search – this is their platform.. i have no content stake on google.com.

    The benefit – if i am helping a friend select a nice restaurant… and that restaurant is NOT paying me to say so…then this is a fantastic use of social. Yelp allows you to read open minded comments so you can make up your mind. However, am i really helping anyone when Coke places an ad on my content.. even if they give a $1 off… are people thinking hey steve is endorsing coke (I dont drink soda!). so there is really no benefit..coke doesnt care. yelp participate care – coke doesnt.

    So… my view is… a great idea but let dont forget I own my content and should be able to tell twitter they can share in monetizing it… or… lose me as a participant. Facebook allows me to opt out of their usage of my photos..(which i did – because there is nothing in it for me and i have no ocntrol on how FB uses my content..so i opt out and all are happy)

    whew… i will think this thru and write more on my blog… but this is my 3 cents!

    overall though – good thinking about twitter – just some consideration at execution.

    stephen http://www.think-ebiz.com

    1. I think you may be confused here.

      Yes, you own your tweets. As Scoble said, tweets are sacrosanct.

      You won’t have as much control over SuperTweets. If you don’t like that, you shouldn’t use the SuperTweet service.

      It’s like writing for a newspaper–you’d better be comfortable with the publisher’s ability to control and manipulate your articles. That’s just part of the territory, and if that makes you uncomfortable (a perfectly reasonable response), you’d best find another venue.

  37. this is your site robert.. thus it is your rules. if ads showed up on my comment here hawking abook – that would be bad. BUT this is YOUR content… so you can and should reap the benefits. the different is…twitter is placing an ad on MY content on my words… i might not like the message.. i might want to share in the revenue.. i might want to say no. i should have this right. does this make more sense…. it would be like typepad putting ads on my site – withoutr my permission…

  38. I think the meta data surrounding the tweet has amazing value (and I don't mean value in just monetary terms). Programs can do a helluva lot more with the meta-data than with having to parse the tweet to perceive meaning – perhaps this means that people will be able to exploit this meta data in the same way that meta tags were initially exploited in web page SEO until Google got smarter?

    Interesting stuff :)

  39. My communications are not there to be hijacked by some fool with an open wallet to try and upsell/x-sell or otherwise pitch the reader.

    Twitter can do the ethical thing and sell subscriptions to users instead of selling us.

  40. i agree i dont think google ads are useful,, many PPC programs I manage – i turn contextual off.

    i however think it is a good idea..but needs to be better thought out in execution… ie opt out, revenue sharing and such. or people will decide…to walk away… bcause they dont want ads in their content.. since this will be – if i underrstand it – on their content… not on a sidebar..

  41. Robert,
    I think what you say about affiliates is critical – if we are “brand advocates” for something then why not be rewarded for it?

    I blogged about this in the context of the broken Amazon reviews system here http://bit.ly/8v1fJ9

    Joel

  42. Revenue share is a great idea to make this palatable, AND the fact that sponsored payload is in no way an intention of you the author makes this compliant with the new FTC rules: Even though you may get some revenue, the fact that you never chose/inserted/endorsed the ad should make it OK.

    Very important, as otherwise the new FTC ruling makes it mandatory to put something like “AD:” or “Sponsored:” in a tweet.

    And therein lies the even bigger genius of this: You are completely right that it would make little sense anyway to insert ad/sponsored tweets (say with some sort of highlighting around it), people would just train themselves to ignore those in short order like they have with everything else online, especially in Social Media.

    So instead, make it a conscious decision by the user to look at more info. Totally changes the mind-set, more similar to the “solution focus” we see with search ads. People are signaling that the they may be looking for something!

    It is ESSENTIAL to give people more of what they were already looking at when they “raised their hand”. Context is everything. And that's why Robert is right, there has to be a tweet first for this to be attached TO, else there simply is no context!!

    What's the context of your Twitter stream? That's right, there is just about none, at best you could say “social activity”. But each individual Tweet can have a context, and id it's not just the shortest of conversational snippets, it typically does.

    See what I wrote about this exact problem (Web content monetization) some months ago: http://businessmindhacks.com/post/is-advertising-failing-on-the-internet

  43. I don't really see an issue with allowing for an opt-out:

    1) Most people never bother to look at their settings (which explains how few had the “view all @ replies” turned on before Twitter – stupidly – took that away).

    2) If people get a share of say anywhere from 10-50% and make some money WITHOUT having offended anyone, or forced anything on anyone (or being perceived as having done so), then opting out will just be plain goofy…

  44. I have to agree with Stephen. What if Twitter links my tweet to a cigarette ad? Or, God forbid, a politician or political ad? That would cheese me off.

  45. I'm not sure people will want stuff popping up when they mouse over a tweet. I think Twitter advertising will more likely be about helping people/companies get more followers. There are many ways they can do that without turning our tweets into ads.

  46. If you use Google's Blogger, Posterous or WordPress you don't want them turning your text into mouseovers that go to Fandango. I don't see why Twitter should work any differently.

  47. I hope there is an opt out function. I see a hornet's nest for the FDA regarding clinical trial patient recruitment messages without one. If you add metadata, that's not IRB-approved and by definition impacts the accurate portrayal of research study info. If it isn't pre-authorized by the IRB, it is banned. I would hate for what is a very interesting ad model for Twitter undermine the use of the microblogging service by researchers seeking patients (and vice versa).

  48. Hmm, this may make social search, and relevant advertising a little more challenging. Depends on their semantic choices and system.

    I love that foursquare is advertising from locations a person visits. It's so personalized to the user, and their activities. Man, they're gonna rock the revenue.

  49. So, give me opt out of specific advertisers or give me a choice of which services I would like to have onto my Tweets. Also, give me a choice whether I want to participate in revenue sharing, etc.

  50. How does Flickr do it? Tags! Seems to work very well. I can tag your Tweets. If you've followed me, maybe the system should trust me to add tags to your tweets?

  51. I've never heard anyone use that term before, but it doesn't matter. Messing with the idea of a 140 character Tweet is stupid. Adding on a metadata payload is smart. I call that SuperTweet. It'll be interesting to see what Twitter calls them.

  52. They approve the partners, like Yelp and IMDB, that get displayed on the new display surface. People? Only people I'm following get displayed on my SuperTweets. There wouldn't be any spam.

  53. Who cares about Followers. Did you know you can follow me without following me? Here's how: start a new Twitter list. Call it “Scoble is a noisy jerk.” Put me in there. But do NOT follow me. Now you can look at anything I write without following me. So, tell me again why followers matter.

  54. Thanks Robert.

    Just goes to show where quality over quantity of followers on Twitter are more important. This I imagine was the tactic of Twitter lists to develop a “Directory of Niches” where the crowd helps the cream of 'trust agents' rise to the top.

    More food for thought…

    Thanks.

  55. I'm familiar with lists and I know Twitter influence is far more than just followers. However, you can't measure Twitter influence without considering followers. Anyway, still wouldn't want the text in my tweets turned into mouseover ads by Twitter. Imagine Rotten Tomatoes tweets – would they want any movie mention they make to be turned into a Supertweet so that when they mention New Moon or any other movie a mouseover sends people to IMDB? Microsoft tried this once in IE with a feature called “smart tags” many years ago – it was poorly received.

  56. That is total bullshit. I can measure Twitterer influence without knowing your followers. I just ask people who you link to how many people visit their pages from your Tweets.

    But, seriously, Twitter influence based on followers is just bullshit anyway thanks to Twitter's suggested user list, which totally messed the system up, and due to autofollowers who will follow back if you follow them. That is NOT influence. That's bullshit and stop trying to sell it as important. It is NOT.

  57. Again, this is NOT about making your text do anything. SuperTweets would add a NEW display surface to the bottom of your tweets, or to the side, depending on the client.

  58. Robert, would that ad model not create a 'SEO-like' race even worse than what we have in Google today? I mean, people (or worse, bots) tweeting things to intentionally generate ads. Or is that an acceptable on-the-side business in this case?

    Joao

  59. I personally think they should be able to add whatever ads into your tweets as they see fit, and you should get nothing. I mean, if you don't like it, stop using twitter. It costs money and they want to make money, it's as simple as that. It is nice that the ads are designed to give people who use their services relevant discounts or the like… but what's in it for you? Nothing. You're not entitled to anything.

  60. Followers will always have a role in Twitter influence. Obviously, there are some who have gamed Twitter to get followers but I think it would be silly to say someone with 1 million followers has no Twitter influence at all. Many of the same people on the SUL are also the people who are on the most lists now so there is a high correlation between the amount of followers someone has and the number of lists they are on. Followers is not an irrelevant statistic.

  61. Thats why i hate capitalism. people spend soo much time and energy to get money out 140chars random thoughts, instead of doing something that make the world better and more peaceful ;)

  62. At some point, we are all going to get tired of being marketed to.

    I guess I rarely want to hear about the restaurant across the street, although I DO want to hear about the great new restaurant in my neighborhood that I didn't know had opened.

    I spend so much time online (practically all day) that I feel spam-slime creeping up on me constantly. Every message is a marketing message, including many of my own. Very few people are on Twitter just to “be there” anymore; they are all hawking a book, a webinar, a brand, a game. The only time Twitter now seems authentic to me is when someone's sick or when there is breaking news. Then I can see the true community shine through. But in between crises, Twitter's all marketing messages to me now.

  63. Hmm, I don't think so. Why? Because I care about my audience. I could already do that here if I wanted to <buy Ivory soap> couldn't I? <get a Chevy car> But why don't I <eat at Chevy's> pimp out my words at every chance <drink Diet Coke> I have? Because, well, you'd go away. I know I unfollow people who over advertise to me. Why? Because their noise isn't worth their signal. Are we really this lame that we can't get this?

  64. Real followers are important. Absolutely. But I can prove that followers that are just given to you, ala Twitter's Suggested User List, are worthless and shouldn't be counted toward influence.

    By the way, Bill Gates has more influence than me, even on Twitter, and he isn't on Twitter!

  65. Whump: the kinds of ads you'd get here wouldn't be hijacking at all. I think you are thinking too stupidly about what advertising really is and will be in the future. There's ways to make it fun and useful and relevant.

  66. Oh, I would love to ad metadata to tweets. We already have metadata about people on Twitter thanks to Lists. Look at just the lists I'm on, and say, @oprah is on. Compare them. What do they tell you about both people? (Assume you don't know us. Are they an accurate representation of both of us? I think they are!)

    Now, imagine we have tags for each tweet. Imagine further we could put a wiki in each tweet's payload. Along with ads. Videos. And metadata like how many retweets that tweet has gotten.

  67. No, Google's ads suck and if you watched the video you'd have some hints about how they suck. I couldn't even put Google's ads on our book blog. Why? The title of our book was “Naked Conversations.” Google's ads included quite a few porn ads. Lame.

  68. You are thinking of it wrong. First of all, Twitter would approve each API these new kinds of ads would hook up to. Tell me, if I add Amazon as an API, does Amazon have cigarette or political ads?

  69. You are telling me that if I tweet about the Half Moon Bay Brewery and you see a link to OpenTable including $5 off your dinner that you won't use it? Bullshit. And you'll like it. Plus you'll know thanks to another link to Foursquare when I'm there, so you can come over and tell me how cool these new ads are. :-)

  70. SuperTweet ads won't just be limited to tweets generated by your content, though. Look at the lists I'm on. Lots of them include the word “tech.” Intel could put a link into my SuperTweet surface for info about their new Windows 7 computers. How? Just buy buying everyone who is on a “tech” list.

  71. Well then the real story is the money trail. Theres a begining middle and an end. Three different stories I can assure you.

    Original Message, sent Sat, 21 Nov 2009 04:21:37 -0000:

  72. Considering that larger revenue usually means swifter development, this is an idea I could get behind. Interruption-based advertising falls into a totally different category than this, I’d say – I’d barely even call it advertising. It feels, at least from your description, more like a no-hassle affiliate program. Especially with the Coke scenario. Very cool.

  73. No fair picking a place I like, and a person I like. I wouldn't cross the
    street for a $5 discount; it would depend on the offer. If all ads were
    targeted like you just (manually) targeted that one to me, I wouldn't mind
    them. But you know they won't be. I will get Viagra ads. Or Senior People
    Meet ads, or some other misrepresentation of who I am. Or I will get someone
    trying to monetize their relationship to me.

    But I understand that Twitter has to eat, and that people won't pay for
    content. So I guess I will whore out my metadata.

  74. I don't agree that you would EVER see Viagra ads or Senior People Meet ads. I guess I'm not explaining this right. Twitter would approve every ad partner and there is no incentive for them to mess up by partnering with stupid things like that. They don't need to. Just adding an affiliate link to Amazon would make them tons of money every month.

  75. But… unless this metadata was randomly assigned per tweet, then if I see your tweet that has this tagged metadata and I opt to retweet your content, irregardless of the metadata, then wouldn't I break the FTC's rules by not putting a disclaimer into that retweet?

  76. No, none of this stuff breaks FTC's rules. Here's a hint: Huffington Post has ads. Do they need to run an FTC disclaimer on every post? No. The rules don't state you do.

  77. I don't feel that way at all. I think there is definitely alot of
    marketing on Twitter. But it's marketing we want. Otherwise we
    wouldn't have followed those people on the first place. I want to be
    marketed social media stories and sustainable food news. It's what i
    signed up for. I mostly ignore the marketing that is not for me. Is it
    that hard?

  78. True. In fact, there are many ways to use capitalism to “make the world better and more peaceful.” I think Tech Crunch ran a story about this a while back.

  79. Likely they would not, although 3 years ago I had no idea they would deliver fresh groceries to my door by 6:00 am in 2009 either…

  80. Ari, no, you still wouldn't have a material connection: If you use Twitter's new retweet function, all credit remains with the original tweet author anyway (and he/she didn't place the ad either).

    But even if you use the old way (which I prefer BTW), then Twitter can simply assign a new or similar, or even the same ad to the “add-on payload”, but you still won't have a material connection because you're not endorsing. Deck shuffled anew so to speak.

    All of this of course predicated on the premise that Twitter is going to do a revenue share in the first place. They could clearly just say that that is the cost of using the service.

  81. The genius of this (if I understand Robert's description correctly) is that you'd never have to see an ad at all unless you'd want to. It would be your option to click on/mouse-over/surface the meta-data add-on package.

    By your ACTION you'd be declaring intent: Let's see what Twitter might have cooked up for me “underneath” this tweet.

    Then if it's intelligently targeted to the content of the tweet (and I agree that this is still a big if), you may well be delighted. And even if it's not for you, it won't feel like someone was completely wasting your time.

  82. Oh! that sounds brilliant.

    So you're saying the ad will be grafted on to the link up inside the cocoon of metadata stuff around the tweet?

    So everybody who has, say, the movie 2012 inside their tweetwrap, so to speak, would have the ability to click and get that movie's page? So the movie people would buy into that link, not with a search ad, or an ad on the interface somewhere, but an add inside the tweet, in its words .

    So would it get *more* intrusive, though, so that some companies could buy, like, the word “tonight” for a geographical area and other profile keyword searches, so that some people who were tweeting like “what do you want to do tonight”? “I dunno, what do you want to do tonight”? would click on “tonight” and it would show like a restaurant or a concert ?

    People might get pretty mad at it doing that, but on the other hand, I personally wouldn't mind if , say, a movie or book title would be clickable to go somewhere.

  83. Robert, you craft a book titled naked conversations, and expect the adsense engine to not think it's serving ads to a seedy website?

  84. Here is a great idea: Use something that is already totally familiar to every Twitter user – blocking. This time of specific advertisers.

    If I hate a specific ad, I just click a block button by the ad. It's great for me, and great for Twitter not to try showing me something I have no interest/etc. in again. They get to continuously refine their click-through rates!

    BTW I think that blocking in general is a totally underappreciated and underdeveloped function in social media, e.g. Twitter should have long ago allowed us to see our own “block page”, with a list of users we have blocked.

    That way, each blocking action could be ONE click, no pop-up (they have gotten better on this with the most recent UI changes), and could be reversed in case of error or later changing one's mind. Maybe it should just be called “muting” so as to not sound so drastic…

  85. A few things: 1) Bots are already being outed more and more due to the list count. High followers (due to refollow spamming), plus high tweet count (due to autoposting from twitterfeed, etc.), but only on 10 lists = Bot.

    And you just block them. Been doing a lot more of that lately as they are outing themselves more than before (anything from twitterfeed is suspect, unless its a declared blog RSS feed or similar).

    2) If Twitter is smart and turns on per advertiser blocking as I described further up, that solves the problem, along with just blocking the source (fake user) of too many tweets. And if a given “user” has too many ads blocked from his stream, Twitter could manually take a look & intervene.

    3) One would think that Twitter could easily throttle this in their set-up, that only x tweets per hour at most will be targeted, even if more were target-worthy (there will be many that won't be in everyday short conversation).

  86. Except when Twitter then kills that client by violating terms of service for accessing their API…

    Seriously, it's all in the execution. If it becomes clear that this is something new, that the ads are mostly useful, and that Twitter is keeping a tight lid on things so that there are minimal shenanigans, then all is well.

  87. OK. Then I have to clean out my Twitter account, where I follow 2000 people, to make sure I don't do any discovery, meaning follow any people that I don't really “know.” I still think this is easy to game.

  88. At the conference you said they couldn't put ads on the webpage as a module (e.g. adwords) because of clients, but I think that is too strong of an assumption. I think they can virtually duplicate adwords/adsense model. With lists they now have keywords for users that advertisers can target against (with geo as a bonus). Put a minimum clickthrough requirement, like adwords, and put them on the page in a similar way to adwords, not attached as meta data per tweet. I think you can keep with the tweet length and image of person theme, as long as you tag it as an ad (though image isn't required). As far as 3rd party tools, provide adsense revenue sharing to them (they won't monetize any better than Twitter themselves!) and if people insist on using the API in high volume without ads charge them (they are already charging some high volume API users, Dick admitted yesterday). It's not that I don't like your idea of users adding additional meta data on their tweets, I love it, but I don't think users will do it enough because I don't think they will perceive value, which means that if it is optional it will be too sparse and so targeting on a per tweet basis, while the holy grail, will likely be as attainable as the grail. But let's make this interesting, care to place a $1 bet with me on whose solution will be implemented (ad attached to a tweet vs. ad attached to a user's page)? :)

  89. This SuperTweet seems to be confusing people a little, including myself!

    Just another point that I need to throw out there and consider…

    With the development of social search on google now, how will these SuperTweets translate into the SERPs and subsequent results?

    Will a tweet that is displayed via social search, and which contains said advert, still function in the same manner as originally intended in the result itself do you think? Will google be looking for a “cut” as well (or can they?)

    lol, my brain hurts…

  90. Maybe Google will only display the old-style regular Tweets, but they will link back to the full new SuperTweets on Twitter.com, right? So, now there's incentive to all of us to Tweet better, especially if we're getting a revenue share!

  91. The only ads that aren’t annoying are ads that users explicitly opt-in to receive.

    Therefore, one way Twitter (and Facebook Fan Pages) could structure the business model is to enable brands/organizations/companies, etc. to set-up specific commercial Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of communicating with Followers who themselves opt-in to this specific commercial accounts.

    It logically follows that most of the tweets flowing downs these new paid commercial accounts will be special offers, discounts, etc. Twitter users “will love the ads (read: tweets) because they will only receive these tweets when they want.

    So, for example, if you are in the market for a new computer you could Follow (i.e. opt-in) to a commercial account for Dell, Apple, Sony, etc. Once you have purchased the computer you can unfollow these commercial accounts.

    The commerical accounts pay Twitter on a CPA (cost per access) model with different rates per Follower (25 cents per month).

    Interestingly, Facebook Fan Pages is ultimately better suited to offer value-added channels to companies but it may be Twitter, which gets the ball rolling.

    Ultimately, this is NOT about ads but about access. Companies will pay Twitter for “access” to users. This is great for all three parties involved.

    PS: GDGT is perfectly positioned to implement the same Access-Based business model because it is the premier aggregator of hardcore gearheads. That is valuable.

    We will see much more of this type of opt-in access-based models. The New York Times could do the same thing but simply with a different set of companies. The great thing is for the users of each of these services, they do not need to see ads if they don't want.

    and finally, the irony will be that there eventually be some very exclusive aggregators , which will be able to charge users for membership because of the quality and/or status of the companies, which are making the offers.

  92. I love the moveOver popup with more info in it. I am keeping an open mind on the ad thingy stuff until I see how it works on me while I'm in twitterville. If I start feeling irritated, I'll remedy the situation by using one of the other mini-tweet places.

  93. Robert,

    So when @dickc mentioned that their advertising model will be available to partners, what is your take on that given your “super-tweet” idea? You are saying the ad would then flow through to Tweetdeck and Seesmic?

    Your idea has some merit but lets be honest, it is an idea. There have been business ideas surrounding advertising on Twitter for almost 2 years including SponsoredTweets, Ad.ly, Twittad & Magpie. I think the most important piece is that Twitter is not positioning themselves as a advertising business. They want content and they want to share it.

  94. Sorry, before Friday what you wrote would be true. IT IS NO LONGER TRUE THAT TWITTER IS NOT AN ADVERTISING COMPANY. That is the huge change that happened on Friday when Dick announced that they would be turning on an advertising platform.

    Also, all those other ideas are NOT advertising we like. Dick (Twitter's COO) announced that their ads would be something we WOULD like. That means only one thing: a metadata payload of some kind. If I'm wrong, I'll be very shocked.

  95. Fact: they are working on an advertising platform.
    Fact: they say we will like it.

    It is an informed opinion of mine that SuperTweet is what we'll see. Will I be right? We'll find out soon enough.

  96. Robert,

    You are definitely onto something, but I think that the metadata may only be used by advertisers to instantly generate an “under tweet” ad and it is the ad that you see when you mouse over a tweet. This is what it may look like: http://bit.ly/7pghaY

    Andrew

  97. Perhaps your SuperTweet approach is one way for Twitter to make money but it is not necessarily the ONLY way. Twitter could implement both of our models since they are not by definition mutually exclusive of each other. I like your idea, too.

    Sure, we currently do have a lot of commercial clutter (i.e. spaminess) already within Twitter. It is now often difficult for users to distinguish between channels of conversation and channels of commerce. At the same time, it is challenging for organizations, companies, groups, etc. to know just how much commercial content is appropriate for them to mix in with other messages.

    My suggestion that Twitter offer authorized (this is important) commercial accounts, which are marked as such, will offer both parties (tweet publishers and followers) more clarity. Thus, what I am proposing is quite different from the free-for-all that currently exists. Your easy dismissal is misplaced. The result of authorized commercial channels for tweet publishers would be that Twitter would instantly become better.

    You may want to consider that you, yourself, have already used an example in the comments concerning a coupon of $5 and how that would be an attractive offer to you. That restaurant may in my example maintain two Twitter accounts. One account would be the restaurant's “regular” account where it talked/conversed with its stakeholders. The other newer type o account would be a commercial account through which the restaurant could solely make promotions, special offers, discounts, announcements, etc.

    I, for one, would welcome such a bifurcation of communication from organizations that conduct commercial business. There are a bunch of addition tweaks that could be adopted to improve this idea of commercial accounts further. One such tweak might be to enable users to add keywords to classify a commercial account (e.g. restaurant, lawyer, computer, rental-car, etc.).

    Your thoughts Robert.

  98. First, the meta-data association is BIG — way beyond just advertising. Tagging, geo-location, and parent/child info (providing the ability to piece together entire conversations and trends – REAL-TIME), just to name a few, would be enormously useful to Twitter and 3rd-party developers. It would create a mechanism that does not mess with the magical 140 characters, while providing an extension that embraces really useful things today and things that haven’t even been thought of yet.

    Addressing the monetization issue, clearly the integration of (multi-tiered) SuperTweet MetaData would benefit any advertising strategy Twitter pursues, and offer an affiliate opportunity for Twitter clients and developers. Twitter has every right to place whatever ads they want within any context they chose, just as the user has every right to ignore them or abandon the service. Twitter’s responsibility for long-term happiness (for all) is to find a balance.

    It wasn’t so long ago that nobody would conceive of paying a subscription for the right to push out messages 140 characters at a time. But that was before the phenomenal growth and success of the Twitter ecosystem. There is absolutely a class of Twitter users today that would pay $2.95 per month for additional value add – whether that be no ads, higher control over ads, or premium service/content.

    For everyone else, SuperTweet MetaData could help target ads in ways not otherwise available. The problem with web-based ads (a la Google), is that there is too much anonymity for them to be really useful (this is separate from privacy). If I visit a website, the context for ad delivery is the website I am visiting. Twitter, on the other hand, knows the context of the message, the conversation in which the message occurs, the originating sender, distributed recipients, relational association at each step (including location of all), plus any meta data that I may have inserted via preferences, priorities, filters, patterns, and trends – all of which occurs in real-time.

    I do not believe the case for SuperTweet MetaData is about advertising, though it certainly has relevance. No, I think the real case for SuperTweet MetaData is that it reinforces Twitter’s position as the center of its universe, extends 3rd-party opportunity by an order of magnitude, and provides Twitter with numerous monetization options – including advertising and subscription revenue.

    Steve Repetti
    http://www.radwebtech.com

  99. Let me throw something into the mush. Think of a Super Tweet as a message that carries a payload, and that payload has an 'expression mechanism,' essentially a kind of Media Unit (think: run-time space).

    In this context, a Super Tweet is both addressable as a simple, standard tweet and explicitly designed to expand into in a well-formed Micro-Post format.

    Fundamental to the format, the Super Tweet carries with it the promise of easy lookup, specific payloads and standardized handles for engaging with them (get product info, request sample, get coupon, index it), as well as what’s in it for them (loyalty points, early access and feedback on products, discounts and free samples).

    Think about it. What better use for Lists than in making the creation of a Consumer/Product Producer Engagement channel easy and simple?

    Similarly, imagine how that could overlay with client apps like Tweet Deck or job-specific services such as Stock Twits.

    Btw, for those who don’t know, in Posterous the tweet is the exposition of the Title of the Posterous Post, which is itself a by-product of the ‘originating content capture’ workflow using the Posterous bookmarklet.

    What’s especially cool about the Posterous model is that you can excerpt and encapsulate all sorts of online content, including text, pictures, files and video as part of an intuitive, copy and post experience.

    Here’s is a primer on Posterous, if interested.
    http://bit.ly/6ki7S

    Cheers,

    Mark

  100. Seems like a really great product idea to me. While you say no-one likes advertising, if they are actually interesting and useful then we all love to bounce around the web, especially if we get special offers. I think this could be a great strategy and I hope they can cracking on it soon! :)

  101. one thing twitter can do to avoid users receiving certain type of publicity they don´t want is just to have some ad category options in the user profile. same for the ads associated to their tweets ..
    Not complete opt out (twitter has to live) but “selective” opt out..

    If you don´t go to your profile, by default you receive all types of ads OR any type of ad could be associated to your tweets

  102. Thanks for the post, Robert!

    What I find funny about this whole debate is that I see the same arguments that cropped up when people first heard about Twitter.

    “But it’ll be full of spam.” “It’ll be easy to game the system.” “What’s the value?”

    This new advertising model might not work at all. But is it really a good idea to dismiss it for the same old reasons?

  103. Argh…. I wish I'd seen all this 5 days ago. How did I miss it? Robert – we're making all this stuff possible. I had no idea you and I were so much on the same wavelength. Please take a look at http://blogs.fluidinfo.com/fluidDB/2009/10/03/f… and anything else on the FluidDB blog http://blogs.fluidinfo.com/fluidDB Almost all of it is relevant – though you may not see why immediately. Feel free to mail me (terry fluidinfo com) or just followup right here, of course.

  104. A suggestion I made to @jack in email the other day was that Twitter should add an ad call to their API. It could be something like that. Actually, here's the mail:

    > This following idea seems pretty obvious, now that I've had a need for it,
    > so I guess will also have occurred to you guys.
    >
    > One route to revenue for Twitter could be by providing an ad server as part
    > of your API. Anyone who writes a 3rd party app who wants to put ads on it
    > can ask Twitter for appropriate ads to display. 3rd party apps very
    > commonly deal with Twitter screen names (often that the user provides). The
    > app would send the screen names as an argument to the API call to give
    > Twitter context. You guys have all the tweets, the user connections, have
    > done the mining etc., so you're in the best position to know what to serve
    > as an ad.
    >
    > I like this model a lot. It plays to your strengths, it gives the growing
    > 3rd party app community something valuable, and it's not that hard to get
    > something up & running, to monitor, and to refine it as you get smarter
    > about what to serve.
    >
    > Terry