Twitter’s Ad Plan: Copy Google

What will Twitter’s long-awaited ad platform look like? Something like Google’s. That’s the general description of Twitter’s plan, according to people who have been briefed by the company.

Here are the very broad strokes:

  • 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 has been careful not to position its ad plan as the core of its business. And the company has made a point of stressing that its initial ad rollout, like other initiatives it’s launching this year, are merely “tests.”

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