Will all that twitters soon be gold? Last night, social media hotshot Twitter began rolling out house ads to its homepages. The text ads, written in the form of pithy (no surprise there) dictionary entries, currently promote the Twitter Widget and Twitter Search features – though industry insiders speculate the ads are likely being used to “test” the slots for future third party advertisements.
TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington says “it isn’t much of a stretch” to make this assumption. After all, Twitter Japan has hosted display ads since its inception last April. With an estimated 10 million users – a number that surged 33 percent in February alone – few would be surprised by Twitter CEO Evan Williams and company seeking to capitalize on this popularity and monetize the site. The question now is, how?
Twitter’s recent revamp includes the addition of featured users alongside search results and trends. For now, these users are manually selected and typically garner a following of 9,000 to 100,000. 360i’s David Berkowitz says featured users could present a future revenue steam for Twitter, with individuals paying to promote themselves.
Other experts believe the company might someday include ads in the Twitter stream, but allow users to opt out of them through a paid membership. AdAge provides several other monetization strategies, such as creating a contextual ad engine and selling the site outright to Google, Microsoft or even Facebook.
It remains to be seen how Twitter will harness the power of its burgeoning user base, or if marketers will greet, and tweet, the advertising opportunities with open arms. Stay tuned.