Hurrah, finally Twitter has lifted its skirts ,shown its ankles and revealed that it’s anticipated ad platform will be much like Google’s. Roughly:

  • Ads will be tied to Twitter searches, in the same way that Google’s (GOOG) original ads were. So a search for, say, “laptop,” may generate an ad for Dell (DELL). The ads will only show up in search results, which means users who don’t search for something won’t see them in their regular Twitterstreams.
  • The ads will use the Twitter format–140 or fewer characters–and will be distributed via the third-party software and services that use Twitter’s API. The services will have the option of displaying the ads, and Twitter will share revenue with those that do.
  • Twitter will work with ad agencies and buyers to seed the program, but plans on moving to a self-serve model like Google’s, down the road.

Twitter’s Ad Plan: Copy Google, Peter Kafka, All Things Digital

The idea is that this will be less intrusive for users than appearing having ads appear directly in their stream. This is a smart and sensible move by Twitter, of which perhaps FaceBook and Google should take note. The question then of course is how effective will adverts be on a search page?

It is tempting to be dismissive and say that they will be easily ignored, as many online ads are – the rough average for Google Ads is about two percent(ish), even lower for most banners. Also people currently using search are usually looking to track a conversation, around an event or a news story not for information on a product. Personally I think it is quite likely that this behaviour will change. I think smart advertisers will link their ads to their existing Twitter accounts, the value of Twitter is the ability to make a seemingly more human connection and the ads will lose value if they do not capitalise on that.

I also think that the danger for brands advertising is that their ads will be potentially served up directly next to 140 character reviews of their products. So a search for ‘Laptop’ might bring up a Dell ad, it might also bring up a tweet praising or slating a Dell laptop, Micromanagement of your customers on this micro platform is going to be increasingly key.

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