UPDATE: As of 12-15-10, you can buy Twitter Advertising online. As of 2-14-11, buying a promoted trend on Twitter costs $120,000/day
Both third-party ad brokers and Twitter itself have gone through a few twists and turns that shows no signs of getting easier to understand any time soon. As of early 2011, the latest development is that Twitter has two partners that will sell you access to search the “firehose” (the stream of all tweets)—@gnip and @DataSift.
We won’t run ads. No wait, we’ll run several kinds
First, the co-founder of Twitter said Twitter wasn’t considering an advertising-based business model at all. So many companies jumped in to run ads on Twitter. If Twitter wasn’t going to do it, why not?
Then Twitter began testing not one, but several ad programs, and set a bunch of restrictions on anyone but Twitter showing ads. Of course the about-face had everyone up in arms, and required some clarification from Twitter.
There are many kinds of ads that can be Twitter-related. For example, many tools and apps for Twitter are advertising sponsored. PowerTwitter, for example, changes the look and function of your Twitter web page—and adds advertising that can confuse users as to whether its coming from Twitter.
I’m going to concentrate in this post primarily on ads from Twitter, and ads that look like tweets.
► TIP: If you just want to send tweets that you get paid for, check out this list.
Twitter offers up to five kinds of ads now:
- Promoted Tweets on Twitter.com
- Third Party Promoted Tweets
- Trending Topics Ads (“Promoted Trends“)
- Sponsored Definitions
- @EarlyBird specials (Edit: Twitter cancelled these “Special time-bound deals, sneak-peeks, and events”)
And, make no mistake, Twitter’s ads are showing great potential. A test of Twitter advertising by Coke may have set an internet advertising record.
Other Twitter revenue sources
Will Twitter squash its competition?
There are at least ten third-party companies that offer ads on Twitter that show up as tweets. They broker between the advertiser and the user. Twitter, as mentioned, has limited what they can do. But will we see future announcements of greater limitations?
Right now, advertisement brokers are pushing hard against Twitter’s rules—and risking being banned. Basically, can you make an ad that isn’t a tweet, and isn’t in the stream with other tweets, but still have it look like a tweet? Twitter needs to set clearer standards on this.
They could also set the standard for identifying ads that are actual tweets. You can do anything you want currently. At one time you could tell some URLs were affiliate links (for example, Amazon.com’s link shortener). But Twitter now reshortens shortened links so they are run through Twitter’s system for checking for malware, and to provide a consistent URL length.
Most important: Twitter should be able to set clearer standards without ever affecting what users can and cannot tweet.
Know of a company offering ads on Twitter? Leave a comment and I’ll update this post and credit you.
More third-party ad brokers are coming
I think this is a given. Eventually, there could be a shakeout, but it’s not that hard to start a service to fit advertisers with people who want to tweet ads for pay.
For now, and in no particular order (using only easily accessible information from each company’s website), third-party Twitter ad brokers include:
Earn Money on Twitter by simply following @PayMeTweets. If you see a tweet on the @PayMeTweets page you’d like to RT for pay, click the rtee.me link at the end of the tweet. Once you accumulate $25 in your account you can request a withdrawal. You can also use the money you earn to pay for your own sponsored tweets, a sort of tweet exchange.
Sponsored Tweets is a new Twitter advertising platform that connects advertisers with tweeters. Advertisers can create sponsored conversations on Twitter. Tweeters can earn money for spreading the word.
Create sponsored likes – Donate or earn money. Create and publish your likes to your twitter, blog or youtube. The more influential you are, the more you get paid
Use word of mouth to advertise your business. Choose to run a text or video campaign. Choose to pay for clicks, tweets or videos
Distribute your message through influencers on Twitter & MySpace. Ad.ly’s Performance Ads enable you to target end users in the stream based on what they are reading, their location, and their interests.
Ad.ly’s machine learning algorithms ensure that your ads find the right audience. Leverage Ad.ly’s self-service platform now or contact our direct sales team to get started.
Twittad is the largest and most effective form of sponsored advertising on Twitter.
Your brand will be promoted across the entire eco-system by evangelists who want to help promote your brand! You can also use our technology for targeted @replies to consumers who mention specific keywords, key phrases OR consumers tweeting near your business!
As a Twitter User, you can use the Twittad network to safely and effectively monetize your content. Promote only who you want!
adCause matches advertisers with publishers (twitter users). Publishers will get paid show ads in their twitter feed. The more influence you have on twitter, the more money you will make.
Do I have to give money to a charity or a cause? Of course not, you can keep all the dough for yourself, but why not throw your favorite cause or charity a bone. Other users will be more accepting of you displaying ads if they know that some or all of the proceeds are going to a good cause.
Magpie, the original Twitter advertising network, assists brands to harness the power of conversation.
Our platform enables advertisers to create relevant, controlled and individualized sponsored conversations in a mutually beneficial partnership between advertisers and twitterers.
General ad network.
Most ad solutions just sell keywords because they can’t deliver measurable engagement or real brand connection. 140 Proof™ can.
140 Proof lets you see customers through the lens of Twitter. We match ads to people by what they care about, using public Twitter data. Successful ads are retweeted and shared with followers. You pay only for your “first-order” audience; succeeding reach via retweets and word of mouth is both free and quantifiable.
140 Proof’s patent-pending algorithm reaches the right audience across mobile devices, desktop clients, and the web: wherever tweets are served. Find out more about how 140 Proof can help your brand connect and conquer.
Think of tweetmart as classifieds for Twitter®. It is a free an easy way to buy and sell “stuff” or search and post jobs on Twitter®.
From "What Are The Unspoken Rules of Social Networks?"
A way to help successful publishers add Twitter as a revenue source, while keeping the process simple and transparent to both advertisers and publishers.
Lets you bid for keywords, and have your tweets shown as ads across a variety of platforms when people search for those keywords. Kind of a mini-Google AdWords for tweets.
What’s allowed, what’s not—for now
Twitter and most of what are now its competitors in the ad marketplace are scrambling to make deals to get their ads into popular programs such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, etc. The makers of those popular programs have their own ideas for showing ads as well.
This is what required some clarification from Twitter a while back. Third-party apps and devices can show ads, but they have to be careful that they don’t look like they are in the stream of “real” tweets. Ad.ly in particular is pushing hard against Twitter’s rules.
Of course, if you want to send tweets that are ads—which then show up in other people’s stream of real tweets, Twitter won’t stop you, and will probably never limit your options. They will likely continue making rules for the ad companies, but not for users.
Now that Twitter is showing so many kinds of ads, will they continue to increase the methods of “official” advertising they show? Hard to say, but it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to have stopped yet. I would expect at least one more announcement from Twitter about a new/enhanced/expanded advertising opportunity available through Twitter.
Google ads that are tweets
Earlier this year, Google began running tweets in locations that ads would usually go in. This amounts to advertising your Twitter profile, helping users to get more followers and build their brand. By entering the marketplace of ways to advertise your Twitter profile, Google signaled it was leaving no stone unturned in efforts to monetize the existence of Twitter.
Ways to advertise your Twitter profile
In addition to Google, you can advertise your Twitter profile via several services, including:
Showing you profile by showing a recent or selected tweet is the most common way these services work.
Disclosure: We did some consulting for Chirrps since we love their service—you should try it!—and they gave us a free featured user spot afterward as an unexpected thank you.
We did gain quite a few followers that can be directly attributed to being featured, so I can recommend their spot based on our experience. However, I don’t know what it costs, or what results you should expect.
Should YOU tweet ads?
Realize that paid tweets make most users very little money. Which leaves many people feeling that they are selling out for little gain. But a lot of users do show paid tweets. Most started by testing them and seeing what complaints they got, and how much money they made and then deciding whether to continue.
Also, there are a wide variety of systems for choosing what you tweet. Some let you write most of the tweet. I tested a system some months ago when I saw that two of the paid tweets were things I had already tweeted about for free. But after running three ads one weekend, I decided against continuing. I would only want to tweet things I actually endorsed or felt were useful to share, and finding those things is difficult.
Twice when we found a product we were ecstatic about, we tweeted an affiliate link (Amazon.com) to where we purchased the product. This I feel good about. Something that naturally occurs in our life that could be of benefit to others we of course already share.
Have we missed anything?
Know of another company offering ads on Twitter? Leave a comment below and I’ll update this post and credit you.
P.S. I was tempted—for about a second—to join affiliate programs for the ad programs listed here and link to them via affiliate links. But firstly, it’s a lot of hassle to do so for very little return. Then there is the whole feeling that I’m sharing this information for no other reason than to make a few bucks. Everyone needs money to live, but for now I’m just very uninterested in most ways I’ve seen of using ads to make money from Twitter.