Monetizing Twitter. Surely There’s A Better Way?

For several years, the finest brains at Twitter have been wondering how to make some serious money from their Golden Goose.

This week, they announced the launch of a new Targeted Keyword product.  The article in Campaign states it will be a “game-changer… early indications are that this will be of genuine interest to a wide range of clients”.

I can’t be the only Twitter user whose heart sank at the news.  Seriously?  Keywords?  That was their best idea?

According to Simon Spaull of TBG Digital, “If you’re marketing a credit card, you have to accept that people aren’t on Twitter to find a new credit card.  Now you can target people in a relevant mindset.”

Putting aside the blinding non-sequitur in this statement, I can’t imagine how a bank might identify that “relevant mindset” when I’ve shared a funny picture of a kitten, promoted my new blog, joked about Masterchef, expressed outrage at Question Time or moaned about the half-term kids running riot on my commuter train.

Twitter’s incredible USP is it provides a space to chat with anyone about anything – from the trivial to the serious – without some annoying advert jumping up every 5 minutes trying to second-guess what’s in your head.

I can only hope that this new service is sophisticated enough to work out the difference between ‘Can anyone recommend a good credit card?’ (should that ever be tweeted) and ‘OMG, so maxed out my credit card this weekend. LOLZ!!’

The Campaign article suggests Keywords might enable other advertisers to mirror the huge success of the Oreo Superbowl tweet.  But that success had absolutely nothing to do with keywords and everything to do with a hashtag that millions of people were voluntarily following – enjoying and sharing the best content as part of a fantastic communal experience.

Like every brilliant ad, the Oreo tweet was based on a great (human) idea, simply and quickly done.  Not an algorithmic robot.  And anyway, isn’t the modern marketing mantra ‘it’s all about the content’?

So here’s my question.  Why does the successful commercialization of digital platforms always seem to come down to how many ad messages you can inflict on – sorry, I mean ‘serve’ – your community?  Your loyal and engaged community, who, by the way, originally signed up to an ad-free network.

There has to be a better way.  I don’t know what it is, as I’m not a Shoreditch or Silicon Valley-based teenage geek-genius designing apps in my bedroom.  But there are thousands of them out there – surely one of them can come up with a more sophisticated, content-based solution?

First one that does gets a squillion dollars.

 

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