November 23, 2009

Twitter ads — a self-limiting concept?

Twitter is all about limits. If your tweet isn't 180 140 characters or less you can't send it out to your followers. And if you build up your reputation to the point where you have a lot of followers, you might want to monetize it by signing up with a service that tweets ads through your identity to all those followers. There's a guy with 50,000 followers who made $3,000 last month using that service. He gets $200 every time an advertiser takes advantage of those 100,000 eyes.

To be fair, at the end of the tweet there's a little "(ad)," which means you're untricked after you're tricked. But he can only make that much money because he has all those followers. And people are on Twitter — looking for things to read, becoming followers — because there's stuff they want to read and the whole experience of being there feels cool. As ads pollute the experience, people will unfollow the writers they have boosted or they will abandon Twitter altogether and move on to the next cool place.

Now, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe a lot of people — especially the younger demographic loved by advertisers — tolerate and even almost enjoy a modest infusion of advertising into their reading experience. Did you know that 46% of people 18 to 49 years old don't fast-forward through the commercials when they are watching TV shows on a DVR? They can skip the commercials but they don't!

Once you're used to the fact that there will be ads, maybe you won't mind. Maybe you think it's natural and appropriate for a popular Twitter writer to make money this way. He'll continue and work hard at keeping up the constant twitter of tweets, because there needs to be a sufficient amount of editorial material around the ads and because $36,000 a year is a fine incentive. When an ad comes up in the feed, you may accept it as fair and endure. You're not outraged when a TV show you're watching suddenly goes to commercial. That's the way life is. People who work providing video/words deserve an income. Deal with it.

Or don't. Personally, I don't watch TV shows with commercials. I watch HBO or I record and fast-forward. And I mostly ignore Twitter these days anyway. Ads would just make it feel even less cool that it already felt to me, when ads weren't the problem.


Ron said...

Tweets are 140 characters, not 180.

Anonymous said...

RT @Ron: Tweets are 140 characters, not 180.||AA is Twitter rusty.

KCFleming said...

I agree.
Nice post.

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Lem said...

Me Olvide De Vivir - so i twiter..

wv - lisessen - a super list of lies and the peo[le that love her ;)

Attila Girl said...

Sometimes commercials are the best part; they have 30 or 60 seconds to tell a story, and when they succeed, it's magic.

miller said...

Commercials pay the freight.

However, I don't have to pretend to enjoy them or pay attention to them.

I resent all the commercials at the movies, so I make sure to talk through them and otherwise do what I can to drown them out.

They are noticeably louder than the movies.

And they are laughably clumsy.

I don't mind seeing trailers because at least they're related to the movie.

But ads for dog food? I think not.

Anonymous said...

"Did you know that 46% of people 18 to 49 years old don't fast-forward through the commercials when they are watching TV shows on a DVR?"


When underlying false assumptions such as these are the basis for your thinking, of course you're going to get stupid outcomes.

Garbage in, garbage out.

There are many reasons why a DVR commercial might not be fast-forwarded through, but that does not mean the advertisement was watched by anyone.

The false assumption created by your illogical thinking Ann is that if the DVR isn't fast forwarded, then the commercial was watched.

That assertion assumes facts not in evidence, as any decent law professor should be able to detect.

Objection! Your honor.

Advertisers who place ads on Tweets should be aware that their key demographic uses technology to route around ads. (For example, my Firefox browser does not display ads you might purchase on ... so any advertisers who buy ads on Althouse should be aware that their expensive ads are not even displayed by my browser). It's a complete waste of money.

The key 18-49 year old demographic is smarter than advertisers and publishers. We built technology to make ads obsolete.

Find another paradigm.

Bissage said...

I am all in favor of ads on Twitter.

Were it not for Ashton Kutcher’s tweets, I wouldn’t have this nifty Nikon COOLPIX camera and Mrs. Bissage wouldn’t have found out she has chlamydia.

miller said...


Lem said...

Un hombre secreto.

Twiter es un permizo en maza a una clase de libertinaje.

da pena. yo no voy a ser parte de un fracazo.. especialmente de uno en maza.

prefiero no diluirme en mi propia mierda ;)

wv - sureson

Ron said...

Is the point of this post to try and prepare us for ads within posts? Genius!

miller said...

try to...

Michael Haz said...

RT @ Helen Parr: RT @Ron: Tweets are 140 characters, not 180.||AA is Twitter rusty.|||I SELL TWITTER ANTI-OXIDE.

Lem said...

I still have company of the spanish speaking persuasion so i thought i would make myself understood to them via my desdain.

i dont twiter .. they dont twiter..

so i'm looking at some time b4 they catch on to my .. you know..

i wish they leave.

wv - mondions - gods sent to deliver bad news.

Lem said...

this is all really my fault. I mean how did they find their way here?

Lem said...

suerte que todo lo que a ellos les atrae ya se me acaba ;)

Lem said...

perdonenme que estoy ebrio..

wv - billa

Lem said...

I think they are leaving.. they r inviting me to go with them..

i like one og the girls they r hanging with.. i just might.

wv cramb - baseball is off

holdfast said...

As a member of that key demographic, it is pretty rare for me to just be watching TV - If I don't fast forward through the ads, it is because I am too busy surfing the web, editing photos or videos or killing Russian Separatists (CoD) to grab the remote. I am still not paying attention to you ads.

Lem said...

I bben playing my music - they loved it.

Lem said...

truth is i might go with them..

its not like ..never mind.

Lem said...

my mother still does not know i lost my job.

esta vaina es una causa de verguenza para mi. no tengo cara para decirle a mi madre que yo perdi mi trabajo.

my father knows but i cant tell my mother .. at least not yet.. it helps that shes no in the states.

Kensington said...

On those rare occasions when I receive a Twitter ad through someone I'm following, I immediately unfollow them and report them as spammers.

Maybe I would respond differently if the ads came through someone with a particularly dynamic Twitter feed, but so far the only people doing it are lame, people I was only following out of reciprocity.

blake said...

I've been following a guy for months. Pretty good content. Then he tweeted this Dr. Pepper thing.

And I looked at it. And I thought about tweeting it as well. It was a contest thing.

But it seemed wrong. I don't have a ton of followers (maybe I'd feel better about it if I did), but to push an ad in front of them because I wanted a free bottle or a million dollars or whatever it was I wasn't going to win—the odds improved the more you RTed, they said—seemed, minimally, rude and selfish.

My guess is the guy who's making the money is being followed by a bunch of people not reading his tweets. There have to be thousands of these people, following each other.