Last week, Twitter announced plans to derive revenue through advertising. The plan calls for ads on the popular micro-blogging site to look just like actual tweets. Thus, rather than seeing a banner ad for a Big Mac, users will see a sponsored McDonald’s tweet promoting a greasy delight.
According to the Washington Post’s Chadwick Matlin, this strategy is well-crafted because it is highly consistent with the formula that has made Twitter popular in the first place. Twitter’s ads (the ones companies pay for) will appear right in your feed of unsponsored tweets.
What makes this strategy so well aligned with the essence of Twitter? According to Matlin, self-promotion is what Twitter is, and has always been all about. Businesses and casual users alike load-up their tweets and their feeds with links to their own work. Regardless of the number of followers you have, every tweet amounts to a shill.
The new, sponsored ads will appear at the top of your feed, along with a “Sponsored by . . .” alert at the bottom, to avoid the perception that McDonalds has hacked your feed. They can be retweeted, replied to, and linked to, just like normal tweets.
Twitter is convinced the way it can make sure its ads work is by making sure they’re “resonant.” That word was all over Twitter’s ad announcement, and it’s sure to become a new buzzword for the Web.
Twitter’s general principle is that it’s going to display only ads that users like — the ones that resonate. It’s great in theory, impossible to do in practice. If Starbucks is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Twitter ads but its Twitter ads are lousy, is Twitter really going to tell Starbucks to take back its money?