Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Good News, T. Rowe Price! Twitter Users Really, Really Love Ads.

times-squareSo now that Twitter has its $1 billion valuation (and another $100 million in cash, not the $50 million that I’d previously heard), how is the revenue-free company going to start making money?

The perennial, and obvious, solution is to incorporate ads into the service, but so far Twitter hasn’t tried it, except for very limited experiments.

The good news for Twitter and its investors is that the service’s user base is pretty receptive to advertising, in general terms, because it’s pretty receptive to just about everything on the Web.

So says research group Interpret LLC, which has a new study out today, conveniently enough. From the release:

Twitter users are twice as likely to review or rate products online (24% vs. 12%), visit company profiles (20% vs. 11%) and click on advertisements or sponsors (20% vs.9%) as those who only belong to traditional social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace. The data suggests that Twitter users uniquely demonstrate higher engagement with brands, not just with “tweets” they post.

These statistics are self-reported, and Interpret doesn’t say how big a sample its survey used, so take them with as much salt as you like. But they seem intuitively and directionally correct: Anyone willing to plug into the waves of information that Twitter pumps out is likely engaged all over the Web.

Note what the Interpret report doesn’t say: That Twitter users are eager to have ads inserted into the service itself.

Doesn’t matter. At some point, they’re unlikely to have a choice about that because it seems hard to imagine that Twitter can ever deliver on its investors’ sky-high expectations without generating some kind of money, somehow, from Madison avenue.

Which is exactly why Biz Stone and crew, who once made a point of expressing their derision for ads, now make a point of saying that ads may not be such a terrible thing, after all.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik