How Twitter Could Monetize Their Service

Twitter Sidebar AdTwitter has been growing rapidly. As I write this, they have passed the 8 million mark for unique visitors to their website, according to (And how many people use desktop clients, cellphones, etc. for their day-to-day tweeting?)

The question that has been brought up countless times throughout last year was “how will Twitter make money?” It’s obvious that they need to find a way to monetize the service before it all falls apart, and they have said that they have plans. But what are they? There are reports that text ads might be part of their master plan, and I’ve seen the tiny ads myself.

What they have right now might work, providing Twitter handles ad sales themselves and avoids selling them on a CPC basis. Advertisers might pay for something like that, despite how out-of-the-way and diminutive the ad blocks are. (Though they are above the fold, and near the username and follower stats, which is a plus.)

I think Twitter might have even better success if they went with something like this mockup I put together:

Twitter Text Ad Mockup

If you look at a Twitter page today, whether it’s a profile your friends’ activity stream, you’ll note that the content area displays twenty “tweets.” This is the section of the page that people focus on the most, and thus prime real estate for advertisers. Of course, you don’t want to detract from the user experience either.

My suggestion is to have one tweet-sized text ad with an associated image on a page, maybe after the third or fourth post. A darker background color would set it appart from the messages, as well as a small “sponsored link” caption. This puts the ad in a more visible place, which would be more likely to entice possible advertisers, and Twitter could charge more for the ad.

This is not the “paid tweet” idea that everyone seems to be strongly against, but an ordinary text ad. They wouldn’t show up in desktop clients, only one would appear on the page, etc..

“Enterprise” Accounts

How many companies use Twitter to connect with their customers? Google, Starbucks, CNN, CNET, Dell. They’re all using Twitter, as are more and more global corporations every day. Why not offer some premium features targeted at them?

Multiple users assigned to a profile would be a good one, so the employees responsible for updating the corporate Twitter profile don’t have to share the same login details.

Maybe corporate accounts could pay for a “featured” placement in a directory of users, among celebrities, bloggers, and “ordinary” users?

Then there’s Twitter CEO Ev‘s plan to license the Twitter system to be used internally at businesses.

  • dejon97

    I like that idea, but Twitter may get a bigger bang if they reconfigure the search page to include ads. I find myself using the search page more and more each day. IMHO, it will also be easier to implement.

    Follow me @dejon97.

  • Dean Saliba

    Yes, I think they will include ads at some point. I hope when they do they get a better server because at the moment it crashes a lot at my end.

  • redwall_hp

    That's not a bad idea. I'm still getting into the search myself, but it is one of the things that I generally use their site to do rather than the API (with Twhirl).

  • redwall_hp

    I haven't had as much of a problem with that lately, but I can understand why Twitter would have difficulties once in awhile. They've experienced rapid growth, and for their service to withstand the load, they have to balance it across multiple servers, which is a process I'm not too familiar with.

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