Twitter’s making a lot of big moves this month, spanning the web and its mobile front. It seems as though we’ve been waiting for this moment for years, given Twitter’s rising popularity and elusiveness about its business model. With promotional ads being rolled out this week, and a mobile app release and acquisition last week, we’re finally able to gain better insight as to what Twitter will be doing to turn a profit and push further growth.
This week’s announcement and subsequent ad roll out is really big news for Twitter, particularly as it begins to address the question of how Twitter can generate some considerable revenue. While Twitter had already begun to make some money through making its content accessible to search engines such as Google, the ability to more directly sell and target ad space through its microblogging network means higher profit margins for the company.
As far as mobile goes, Twitter’s latest moves are welcomed and have been eagerly anticipated for some time. Given Twitter’s early and ongoing appeal for mobile use, its BlackBerry app release and Tweetie iPhone app acquisition give Twitter a far more expansive reign over its existing user base. Gaining more control over the access points users have to Twitter means that the company can better position and target ads, while retaining a good portion of any profits that come through such distribution methods.
To that end, the timing seems quite ripe for Twitter. Having avoided acquisition deals from the likes of Facebook, the necessity for Twitter to step up and make its own way has been an increasing concern, despite the global growth and sustained popularity of the service itself. Others, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, have become more aggressive in their search and location-based services as well, impeding on Twitter’s space and introducing new forms of competition.
Projects like Google’s FourSquare combine geo-specific social interactions with targeted advertising, adding to typical and real-time search from its own database as well as Twitter’s. The need for Twitter to not only regain some of that control, but to make a profit as well, has led the company to make compromises in areas it’s been avoiding since its inception.
That’s not to say that this wasn’t part of Twitter’s plan all along, but the similarities between Twitter’s new ad model and the one proven by Google offer a level of comfort to early advertisers working with Twitter, as well as a sense of familiarity towards users. The efforts Twitter has demonstrated towards its ability to better own its space is a long-awaited business move, and one that could invariably change the very perception of Twitter.
How these efforts will effect advertisers, brands, consumers and developers remains to be seen, but it’s quite evident that Twitter is ready to “arrive.” As we’ve already pointed out, the way in which brands communicate through Promoted Tweets will need to remain poignant and consumer-centric, which merely highlights the fact that the new access points for Twitter advertising will redefine the way in which businesses and consumers interact. Maintaining a healthy correspondence around these interactions will be the new thing to tackle.