Twitter’s path to profitability has been a notorious one. And considering how tightly woven it is into our digital lives, it’s been rather slow to generate real revenue. Its first attempts at marketing models, however, have been relatively successful for the company. But now Twitter is ready to step into the big leagues with a self-serve advertising platform.
The new application is part of a partnership with American Express, and early adopters will get a special deal. “American Express Card members and merchants will be given exclusive first access to Twitter’s new advertising solution for small business,” an announcement from an Amex rep says. “Amex will give $100 in free Twitter ads to the first 10,000 eligible businesses that register at ads.twitter.com/amex.” Spaces weren’t filled as of press time.
So for the time being, those first-comers will get to be the guinea pigs for Twitter’s latest monetization platform, although it should open to the public in the near future. Amex VP and Social Media Communications exec Brad Minor tells us that now small business will also be able to purchase Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts via a self-serve mechanism and these will begin appearing in the next few months (obviously they already appear on the site, but now the capability has been opened to more business owners).
Amex tells us that this is part of “a long line in digital initiatives which include work with the likes of Facebook and Foursquare.” Not surprising: Amex has been on top of integrating with social networking applications to promote its brand. These partnerships have been primarily rewards-based, so we’re interested to see if this means Facebook and Foursquare will also introduce some sort of initiative for using self-serve ads. Facebook obviously already has its own advertising model, but maybe it’s thinking about driving some more interest there, or perhaps it has something to do with Timeline for brands.
Of course, the immediate concern whenever a popular site starts talking about advertising is how much will the user experience be sacrificed. It’s a legitimate concern, but one that we think applies more to applications that are more interactive – clicking around, uploading, commenting, playing games. Sites like Facebook and Foursquare, in other words. We don’t really see Twitter’s design and function being terribly compromised: it’s already a fairly busy space, and “Who to follow” and its promoted content have been integrated rather smoothly, and the new self-serve mechanism is really only going to affect how many people have access to this feature and how they go about using it. It actually might be a win-win, provided the advertising is effective for those using it.