Twitter was only able to take it so long. After all, you can't make money on a site without offering advertising. While it was fun while it lasted, the mega-popular micro-blogging site is rolling out its first ad vehicle. Boogey Man
Now the only question remaining is when. According to Media Post, the platform was a month away on Feb. 23. Now, The Wall Street Journal's blog, AllThingsD, predicts the ad platform's launch won't happen until April, and possibly not until "the first half of 2010." (By the way, the chance of rain is 50-50.)
While "when" is still in question, we do know "how" Twitter plans to monetize. In February, AllThingsD noted Twitter will be modeling their advertising platform on the "Google Model," linking search terms on the site to ads. The 140-character ads will only show up in search results, so unlike Facebook, your home page will remain ad free. However, third-party API's are going to carry ads as well. You may see them on the interfaces you use to access Twitter or add pictures to your Tweets. Media Buyer Planner wrote that this alone would enable "the company to monetize 70 percent of its user base that doesn’t interact directly with Twitter.com."
Twitter's efforts will not be "self-service" ads like Google's well-known AdWords platform, at least in the beginning, due to worries about publishers that may not best represent the site. According Anamitra Banerji, head of product management and monetization at Twitter, described some of Twitter's upcoming challenges: "The one area of concern for us -- and that's if bad ads get identified in Twitter -- it's a problem for us in the long term. So, we should do whatever we can to encourage positive behavior."
While Twitter has been questioned for not adopting an advertising platform, they've also avoided the missteps by other social media sites like Facebook: Twitter hasn't introduced monumental changes and then had to re-think their decisions due to user dissatisfaction. In this respect, Banjeri, once employed by Overture, might be perfect for the monetization duties at Twitter.
When asked what he had learned introducing initial search ads at Overture, Banjeri responded, "Innovate very, very quickly, before someone innovates on top of you. And be very, very focused on execution. Just be dedicated to your own roadmap and don't worry so much about what's happening around you."
Twitter may be one of the fastest-growing sites, but thankfully, they've stuck to their proven process. Now that it's time to monetize, expect Twitter to do so carefully and without much disruption for its fan base. In fact, now may be the perfect time to incorporate advertising in the face of recent reports that the platform is processing 50 million Tweets daily, and the fact that Twitter increased from 2.7 million unique users in December 2008 to an astonishing 18.1 million unique users a year later.
For you number crunchers out there, that's an increase of 579 percent.