Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Twitter Rolls Out Surveys — And Reminds Us Why It Cares About “Consistent User Experiences”

Here’s an interesting new feature for Twitter advertisers: The chance to survey users directly.

Twitter is rolling out the tool today, which it will provide for free to some of its biggest advertisers and will eventually offer more widely.

It’s a straightforward idea: Some users will see a tweet asking them to take a survey, and if they click on it, the message will expand within their timeline, and trigger a brief series of questions.

Nielsen will work with Twitter to audit/analyze the results. Twitter hopes that it will be able to use the feature to convince advertisers that they’re getting their money’s worth, and to help them tweak and optimize their campaigns.

For the rest of us, the tool is a good reminder of why Twitter is intent on controlling the way Tweets are displayed, and maintaining  a “consistent user experience” throughout the service — even if it upsets some partners and developers.

That’s because the surveys are essentially small multimedia presentations, and Twitter can only deliver them through its own platforms. This will work on Twitter’s Web site, mobile sites, mobile apps, etc. But it wouldn’t work on, say, Flipboard.

And, while short, text-based surveys aren’t the most amazing things in the world, you can see how Twitter could use that same technology to present much more interesting experiences. Note, for instance, that the company has already shown its interest in e-commerce a few times, most recently via an American Express campaign.

Twitter started out constrained by a 140-character text limit. But it’s clearly set on augmenting those messages with lots of other bells and whistles.

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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