Twitter execs: PLEASE start accepting ads

In case any of you hadn’t noticed, there’s been something of a civil war on Twitter over the issue of whether advertising should exist there. There’s a lot of finger pointing going on, and a lot of people who seem convinced that they possess the ultimate truth as to how Twitter advertising should work. As far as I can tell, no one will win, a lot of hurt feelings will result, and Twitter will lose some of the irreplaceable camraderie which has made it what it is.

This is why I’m begging, in all seriousness: Please, Biz, Jack and Evan, take this process over and impose an advertising format that works for all before people start rolling out cannons. You may not see advertising as the future of Twitter, but unless you impose some rules on the unruly, it will become the spam-choked Hotmail of new communications platforms.

Yes, I know Twitter, and the myriad of applications leveraging your system, have rolled out naturally and freely with a chaotic zest Timothy Leary would have admired. But now, things aren’t quite so new any more. And I’m telling youyour baby’s in danger unless you put the ad fights to rest once and for all.

Right now, I’d say there’s roughly three groups throwing snowballs at each other:

* First, there’s the Twitizens who believe that no ads should ever invade its sacred soil, and have sworn mighty oaths that they’ll “unfolllow” (the dread punishment of no longer reading a person’s postings) anyone who brings the commercial breath of Mordor to their land. (OK, I admit it, I saw some of the Lord of the Rings trilogy this weekend. But anyway…)

* Another group is at least tolerant of Twitter ad experimentation. (Perhaps they’re remembering how much experimentation it took to get Web and e-mail advertising formats worked out and cutting pioneers some slack?) These folks may not love the idea of being pitched in Twitterspace, but they’re not ready to boot anyone who tries, either.

* Then, there are those who want, at least as a market research experiment, to try out some ad formats on this amazingly well-connected, thoughtful and educated audience, and have no problem enduring what feels like spam for a time as we figure things out.

Some of us (and I consider myself such an experimenter ) want to see how the dynamics of new platforms like Magpie, Adjix and TwittAd actually work. Others, like @madmoneyblogger, actually seem to believe that they can accumulate some real cash this way.

While the various factions try to be civil, I don’t think peace is going to last much longer. So please, brilliant young men behind Twitter, accept that while open source models can work wonders–even in a social setting–sometimes you’ve just got to lay down the law.

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10 responses to “Twitter execs: PLEASE start accepting ads

  1. I created an account: http://twitter.com/marie_too in order to test the Magpie experiment. So far I’ve earned 0.15 Euro. I don’t think I’ll get to retire on it. However, I’m making it clear to everyone that that account is 100% open to being spammed. LOL Considering that it’s not terribly difficult to have multiple accounts (although you do need a different email address), I’d suggest that route for those who want to try Magpie without losing their follow list.

    I will say, though, that most of the Magpie ads have been for interesting sites.

  2. Thanks for your comments. You know, I agree regarding the content of Magpie ads. One (I think for soaps) sounded downright enticing. And the tech ads were all for legit companies, from what I could tell. As for testing Magpie with a different address, that works, but the bottom line is that it’s just a workaround, no? Better to have Twitter play umpire on this one, as I see it.

  3. A different Twitter account is fine, because then those ads are clearly opt-in. I know what I’d be getting from “azieger-magpie-spam.”

    Think of Twitter as a multi-person ongoing conversation. If real life conversations had Magpie, your friends would randomly shout BUY CHEEZE DOODLES AND PEPSI AT BOB’S STORE every couple of minutes.

    I don’t know about you, but if one of my friends did that, I’d think they were pretty nuts. And I wouldn’t enjoy talking with them anymore.

    I use an ad-supported Twitter client – Twitteriffic. The unobtrusive ads appear in my stream once an hour, are clearly denoted as advertising and don’t make me think my friends are getting bought off by Mega-Lo-Mart. That’s the kind of advertising that is acceptable.

  4. First, I agree with you that Magpie could potentially be a huge interruption. Though I don’t experience it that way in small doses, i realize the doses wouldn’t stay small if it got entrenched. (Although, since I have two elementary school-aged children, I do have someone yelling stuff like that in the middle of conversations every day πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Maybe that explains my tolerance level.)

    I’ll look again at Twitterific. That sounds neat.

    What do you think of my thesis that it’s time for Biz Stone et al to step in and impose order on this thing?

  5. Yes, one issue is that if everyone uses Magpie (and the default was, what, 1 ad post for every 5 real posts?) the s/n ratio goes to hell very quickly. There are people who will tweet 5 times in a minute.

    The other issue is, simply, that a Magpie ad is something entirely *un*friendly. It’s jarring and unnatural to read a line, ostensibly from a friend in a conversation, that is written by someone else about a completely irrelevant product which the friend is likely to have had zero personal experience with. There’s no connect there, no reason to consider the ad more valuable because it comes from someone who I have a relationship with.

    In fact, Magpie, to me, is the antithesis of legitimately trading on a personal relationship to advance a business cause. I see it as an abuse of that personal relationship.

    There’s a couple major reasons one might accept viewing advertising online: 1. in return for a valuable good or service; or 2. because one feels that advertising *is* a valuable good or service in and of itself, because of its artistic merit, personal connection to the product/field, etc.

    Magpie satisfies neither of those requirements. Twittering, to me, is a form of interpersonal conversation. I don’t expect to pay or be paid by those I talk with, merely for engaging in a conversation.

    Now, maybe there are enough people willing to put up with Magpie-using Twitterers for it to be worth their while. But I’m not one of them, and I will unfollow anyone who consistently uses it.

  6. I really don’t see how any order needs to be imposed. I think the situation will sort itself out via self-policing.

    If someone can make a living sending out Twitter ads in their conversation to willing recipients, more power to them. Those who don’t want to read ads can unfollow those people.

    If it turns out that there aren’t enough Twitter users willing to read ads in their feeds to make it worthwhile, as anyone who runs ads gets unfollowed en masse… well, then that’s the marketplace at work, isn’t it?

  7. I see where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure you ever directly answered this question: Why Does Twitter’s Business Model Matter to You?

  8. Why even thinking of advertising when the rest of the world comes to realization that this TOO LATE. Advertising was good in the 90’s and 80’s and 70’s… But today nobody can make a business off of advertising because nobody clicks them and nobody cares about them. Read http://www.ceaseadvertising.com and learn why. But more importantly DON’T use a tool that can be an alternative to dysfunctional advertising to run it based on it’s own killer.

  9. I’m fine with ads on the pages, just not in the twitter streams.

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