Twitter is exploring whether to post adverts tied to searches of its micro-blogging website as a means of making money from its business model.
The company has been working on different ways to generate revenues from advertising over the last six months and intends to use the $100 million it raised in financing last summer to fund this and other potential options, which are still in the process of being fleshed out.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the idea is that if users search under the term ‘laptop’, they could generate an advert from an advertiser such as Dell. Such adverts would only appear in search results, however, and not in regular Twitterstreams.
Adverts would also be based on the standard Twitter format of 140 or fewer characters and be distributed via the third party software and services that use the organisation’s application programming interface to connect to its platform. Participation by service providers would be optional, however, and any resultant revenues would be shared with Twitter.
The organisation intends to work with advertising agencies and buyers to seed the programme, but plans to move to a similar self-service model to Google’s over time.
The scheme is expected to be launched during the first half of this year in pilot mode, but Twitter is currently still trying to work out such details as how advertisers would buy and price adverts. It is also considering how to refine its search mechanism to make it more useful to users.
Another issue is finding ways to gather user data in order to make targeted advertising more meaningful. The model works for Google because it has a reasonable idea of consumers’ identity and intent, but Twitter does not currently require users to provide any personal information when they sign up to its services.
The online search model was pioneered by Google, which now generates 97% of its $24 billion in revenues from advertising. Twitter users currently send about 50 million tweets per day, up from 5,000 in 2007.