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Well it had to happen eventually. The company needs to make money, and its pretty standard practice that unless you’re going to charge your users for a service that they’ve been enjoying for free, the only other way to make money is through advertising.
So now we have “sponsored tweets”, which appear in the search results. Rather than blast ads all over the place, for the time being, you will only see these sponsored tweets when you’re searching for something. Which means, for the time being, you’re probably not going to see sponsored tweets. If you’re like me, you probably don’t even use the search function, or know that it even exists or where to find it. (Ironically, the advanced search function is pretty good for trying to find someone, but they keep it hidden for some reason. You have to manually go to http://search.twitter.com/advanced, unless there’s another way that I’m not familiar with.)
I think the most interesting thing, for me, is that Twitter will automatically reward good ads and penalize bad ones. The good ones get displayed more. The bad ones get dropped. And what determines whether an ad is good or bad? You do! As I understand it, if a sponsored tweet is reacted to positively by the people seeing it.. in other words, if they are actively re-tweeting it, or designating it as a favourite tweet, then it’s considered a good ad. If people ignore it, then it’s a bad ad and will eventually be removed. This isn’t a new idea; Digg has been using this on their site for awhile. But it’s still neat.
Curious to see how this plays out.