Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Exclusive: Twitter’s Next Moneymaker–“Promoted Trends”

UPDATE: The new ad unit is now up and running (via Jason Calacanis).
Twitter is beginning to roll out its ad platform, which allows advertisers to insert messages into users’ streams. But the microblogging service already has an idea for a new product: Selling some of the real estate dedicated to its “trending” feature, where it highlights topics Twitter users are chattering about.

Twitter is describing the product to advertisers as “Promoted Trends,” an extension of the “Promoted Tweets” program announced in April. The messaging service has been talking about it in vague terms and has yet to test it.

But the basic gist seems to be this: Advertisers will be able to insert their own terms into the list of trends Twitter displays on users’ homepages (see image below; click to enlarge) and on its login page. Clicking on a term would call up a Twitter search results page, which would feature the associated advertiser’s “promoted tweet” at the top of the results.

Advertisers who have heard Twitter talk about the product say the service imagines charging “tens of thousands of dollars” a day for exclusive placement rights.

If Twitter moves forward with the plan, it’s going to need to iron out some details: For instance, will every one of Twitter’s 190 million users see the same promoted trend? Or will the service figure out how to filter them?

Just as important: Can Twitter ensure that its trending topics aren’t cluttered with spam? The service has been trying to tackle this by tweaking the algorithm it uses to generate trending topics, which is why there’s a lot less Justin Bieber in its results than there used to be. But it can still stand some work–can anyone tell me what “CALA BOCA GALAVO” is, and why I should care?

In any case, it’s early. Here’s Twitter’s position, conveyed via PR boss Sean Garrett:

As we have always said, we plan to test different advertising and promotional models in these early stages of our monetization efforts for both user and brand value. As part of this effort, we will likely test trends clearly marked as “promoted” for an undefined period of time. Assuming that we do, during this test, there will only be one visible at a time.

All of this makes plenty of sense. Twitter spent a long time trying not to become a media company, but it is certainly headed that way now: Twitter attracts users’ attention with content and then rents out access to those users’ eyeballs. So if you’re going with that model, no reason not to go all the way.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo