This week, Twitter rolled out a new plan to make its 140-character messaging service more attractive to advertisers. Previously, companies could only tweet to users who were among their followers, or those who were judged to be similar to those followers. Now Twitter will give advertisers the power to directly target any user who might be interested in their products. The centerpiece of the campaign is a menu of interests — ranging from Bollywood movies and dogs to NBA basketball and stock markets — that advertisers can select. Twitter then gives the advertisers addresses for users that match those interests, which is determined by sifting through what each user is tweeting and reading. The users will then see the advertisements pop up in their streams. Twitter says the new advertising model will boost its revenue, but might the intrusions also turn off users?
This is great for advertisers and users: The new advertising model could be a "win-win," says Julia Boorstin at CNBC. Users will receive the equivalent of custom-made advertisements, and will likely "click on them more, yielding a higher return-on-investment for advertisers." In addition, advertisers have to bid for the ability to publish the ads, and Twitter will base its selections not only on price, but "how engaging their tweets are," which should further endear the messages to users.
"New Twitter tools, game changer for businesses?"
But Twitter is violating users' privacy: "Big Twitter is watching you," says Adam Gauntlett at The Escapist. That's the main takeaway from the new model, which will see the company read all your messages, and then hand your personal information over to marketers. On top of violating users' privacy, Twitter doesn't even give us the choice to opt out of receiving intrusive ads in our feeds. All this will do is push people toward "pay-to-Tweet" services that are cropping up on the web — at least they don't have ads.
"Twitter gives advertisers your user data"
This could be the future of social media: No social media service has yet cracked the code when it comes to building a sustainable revenue model, says Peter Kafka at All Things D. Twitter, Facebook, and others are hoping that "figuring out what kind of stuff you like, based on the people and things you pay attention to," can be transformed into something sellable to advertisers. "If Twitter can do it, it's a big deal."
"Twitter tries cranking up the money machine: More precise targeting = more ad dollars"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- Alien conspiracy theorists think the government is on the verge of spilling big secrets
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
When Americans banned Christmas
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
Subscribe to the Week