Twitter will today announce the launch of ‘Promoted Tweets’ that will appear both in the normal stream and in Twitter search results. In the latter case they will be matched to the query in the same way that Google matches Adwords ads to web search queries. Promoted Tweets will be identified by some small text type and by turning yellow when the cursor rolls over. Best Buy, Virgin America, Starbucks and Bravo are reportedly participating in the launch.
There is a long write up on the NYT and a good summary of the situation and its implications on Econsultancy. The latter makes the good point that Twitter searches may lack the intent which makes Google searches so valuable. The other great thing about the Google model is that click through is a great measurement of effectiveness, and measurement begets budget. It will be interesting to see if Twitter finds something analogous – maybe replies or retweets.
To close, I agree wholeheartedly with Econsultancy’s conclusion:
The good news is that Twitter is finally moving to monetize one of the internet’s hottest properties. At the very least, within six months it should be possible to go from talking about Twitter’s potential to talking about Twitter’s profit (or lackthereof).
Update: Realtime search engine OneRiot has a great post up describing their experience with monetising the realtime web. They are finding that targeting is very complex and to effective needs to factor in things like trending topics and choice of Twitter client. They also point out that advertisers buying keywords is too slow and that instead advertisers have to trust OneRiot to simply index their ads.