Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Looky Here! Actual Revenue for Twitter, Courtesy of Microsoft.

exec-tweetsFinally. Here comes Twitter’s first real foray into advertising, courtesy of Microsoft’s marketing budget.

And don’t worry, Twitter users: You won’t be getting come-ons for Vista in your Twitterstream. Not yet, at least.

The program that Twitter has rolled out today–something called ExecTweets–is a fairly cautious step into marketing, and that is certainly by design. But it does give a you a good sense of what Twitter thinks it can do with its buzzy, fast-growing and almost revenue-free product.

Today’s news: Microsoft (MSFT), via its Federated Media ad network/platform/agency, is sponsoring a page that collects Tweets from various executives. Twitter will get an undisclosed payment for giving the site its stamp of approval and for promoting the site on Twitter itself. Federated says it plans on launching similar programs on Twitter with other clients.

Soon, most likely today, Twitter users will start seeing promotions for ExecTweet on the main Twitter login page, and in the little box that Twitter just started featuring on profile pages. The one that looks like this:

twitter-box

As advertising goes, this is pretty innocuous. Hard to imagine even Twitter’s most anti-advertising adherents having a big problem with this one. But it’s also hard to imagine that many people will see the ads at all since the majority of Twitter use happens off the site, on mobile apps like Twitterific for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and desktop clients like Tweetdeck.

And it’s hard to imagine that many folks will want to use ExecTweet, period: The whole joy of Twitter is seeking out and finding specific people you find interesting–not just a mass of people whose common thread is that they’re “executives.”

I already follow AOL founder @stevecase, for instance, who’s prominently featured on ExecTweet right now. But I don’t imagine I’ll want to pay attention to others who show up on ExecTweet simply because they’re on ExecTweet.

And note that nothing about ExecTweet required Twitter’s OK: The company’s open API model allows users to repurpose its data for their own Twitter apps, and countless entrepreneurs and engineers are doing just that.

But there is something to be said for branding campaigns launched with Twitter’s approval and participation. Figuring out exactly how much that will be worth, and what it will eventually look like, will likely take Twitter and its ad partners a while to figure out. But now they’re starting. Finally.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work