Ad Nauseam

13 04 2010

It only took four years, but Twitter has finally tossed out a plan for making money with advertisements. After all, you can only live for so long on VC funding, and the cash drawer must be running low. After watching Google and Facebook reap millions through their advertising programs, Twitter has smelled the coffee and joined the rest of the online world.

Pardon me while I say “Duh!”

For something that has been pathetically obvious ever since its inception, Twitter sure is gleaning a lot of media attention today. You would think they just invented advertising. Good grief.

Anyone with a few brain cells intact knows that a business has to be monetized in order to have a chance at survival. So far Twitter has been a cash sieve while its 50 million devotees merrily tweet the days away. To think that a start-up is providing a tweet subsidy with OPM (Other People’s Money) is simply beyond the pale.

Making matters worse is the fact that their ad plan appears to be half-baked at best. Differing reports are circulating about how and what will occur, but most center initially on ads appearing via Twitter search. If that’s the best they can do, they may need to raise a few more rounds of funding. Because Twitter is seldom used for search (unless you are dragging your nets for hashtag terms).

There’s little or no talk about the obvious place to insert ads, which is down the right column of everyone’s tweet stream. This is little different from Facebook. Effective integration would simply involve collecting a few key demos from users, and tracking their use of certain recurring words (thereby indicating interest).

If you think this is little league stuff, you’re right. Marketers using tweet bots have been auto-following people for a long time…like the time I once innocently tweeted about having purchased Cubs tickets. Within 15 minutes the Chicago Cubs (God love ’em) were following me on Twitter. (I gave up following them because they robo-tweeted after every pitch during games.)

While it may be nice of Twitter to have given all of us a free platform whereby we can rant, rave, spam and spew whatever it is we have to say or sell, it just smacks of utter stupidity to have gone this long without actually plugging in a cash register. In fact, if any of my students had proposed an online business that would wait four years before it half-heartedly started making money, I would have failed them.

Although I love using Twitter, I am twitterpated by everyone’s seeming indifference toward a business plan that has a fail whale on its cover. The beach can’t be far away.

Dr “#justsaying” Gerlich

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