Twitter’s Ad Plan: Copy Google

What will Twitter’s long-awaited ad platform look like? Something like Google’s.

That’s the general description of Twitter’s plan, according to people who have been briefed by the company.

Here are the very broad strokes:

  • Ads will be tied to Twitter searches, in the same way that Google’s (GOOG) original ads were. So a search for, say, “laptop,” may generate an ad for Dell (DELL). The ads will only show up in search results, which means users who don’t search for something won’t see them in their regular Twitterstreams.
  • The ads will use the Twitter format–140 or fewer characters–and will be distributed via the third-party software and services that use Twitter’s API. The services will have the option of displaying the ads, and Twitter will share revenue with those that do.
  • Twitter will work with ad agencies and buyers to seed the program, but plans on moving to a self-serve model like Google’s, down the road.

The caveats: Everyone I’ve talked to cautions that the plans are evolving and that there are plenty of details to work out. Including a launch date, though it seems as if the first half of this year is a very safe bet.

But at first blush, this seems like a relatively straightforward way for Twitter to get into advertising, without upsetting its growing user base: You won’t see the ads unless you use Twitter to search for something, and Twitter’s advertisers will have at least a vague idea of what you’re interested in.

There are lots of gritty details that Twitter either hasn’t worked out or hasn’t disclosed to the people I’ve talked to. For instance:

  • How will advertisers buy and price the ads? Will they use a Google-like cost-per-click model or something else?
  • Twitter searches are popular, but very crude. Can Twitter refine them to make them more useful to users?
  • Google’s ads work because Google has reasonably good idea of both users’ intent and identity. Twitter knows much less about its users. How can it gather enough data to make its targeting more meaningful?

Twitter has been careful not to position its ad plan as the core of its business. And the company has made a point of stressing that its initial ad rollout, like other initiatives it’s launching this year, are merely “tests.”

That’s one of the of ideas behind the $100 million funding round Twitter closed last summer–it gives the company the time to play around with different business models. But this one seems to have plenty of potential.

The Way We Live Now? Woman Live Tweets Her Abortion

Angie Jackson, known online as Angie the Anti-theist, pushed the abortion debate–and Twitter–to a new level of transparency when she live-tweeted her abortion earlier this week.

Citing a desire to “demystify abortions for other women,” the 27-year-old created a YouTube video right after she took the RU-486 pill. That’s right. She started her abortion on YouTube and continued live-tweeting as the pill did its business:

“Cramps are getting a bit more persistant.”

“Definitely bleeding now.”

The live-cast sparked interesting dialogue about abortion and related issues on her personal Twitter account and more mainstream media, like ABC. As anticipated, the anti-abortion community lashed out, calling her a “whore,” sending death threats and attacking the character of her boyfriend and son.

Jackson also received a slew of support from her online following, which doubled after she decided to Tweet her abortion. “RT @aprilliamay @antitheistangie Don’t let those antis shame/intimidate you. You are a powerful voice speaking for many women. Stay strong!”

Regardless of your stance on the issue, Jackson’s move creates an interesting debate about whether or not such controversial, personal events should be communicated via such public, transient mediums. A few months ago, Penelope Trunk, entrepreneur and founder of Brazen Careerist, tweeted her miscarriage:

“I’m in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there’s a fucked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.”

The blogosphere blasted her decision, calling it disgusting and inappropriate, but Trunk argued that every day, thousands of miscarriages occur at work; “that we don’t acknowledge it,” she wrote, “is absurd.”

But is it? And perhaps more importantly, is Twitter the right time and place for this discussion? You can check out the video below to decide for yourself. And as Angie the Anti-theist would say “I hope everyone in YouTube had a great and Godless day.”

Finding Value in Google Buzz

bee_in_flower I’m not an early adopter of the latest tool. I’ll happily  sit back and wait for the dust to settle before I consider using any new application.

It has been my experience that this is a good practice. Most of what hits the social web usually putters and falls into obscurity.

So when Google Buzz was announced, I didn’t give it much thought.

With any tool that I use, my main objective is:

  1. To determine if it provides me value when it comes to sharing and communicating on the social web.
  2. To determine if it’s just another way to broadcast my voice. If that’s the case, I probably won’t use it.
  3. To be sure it provides value to the people who like what I share and listen to what I have to say. (most important to me)

Recently I’ve been trying to think of a way to share just the articles and resources I come across. I know some people set up a separate Twitter profile for this, but I was curious if there was another way to do this. So I thought about using Buzz. That way my friends who are already connected to me via Gmail can easily grab the information useful to them without having to dig through all my bookmarks or tweets.

I found a Firefox add-on called Buzz it! that works and is useful. It allows you to update your Buzz timeline through your Gmail. The update will include the title and the URL of the page you’re sharing. It also provides the option to edit the update and utilize to shorten your URLs, which I like.

I’ve just started playing with Buzz, so it remains to be seen if this will work.  Like all tools, it’s going to take some investment of time to determine if I’ll want to continue using it. I wrote off Twitter when I first  used it only to find its value the second time around.

Regardless, it’s probably not a good idea to constrain all my engagement to only one tool. Twitter has provided me tons of value and opportunities, but if it disappeared… well, then I’d better be sure I could find an adequate substitute.

Have you found any value using Google Buzz?

Happy Wednesday: Conan O’Brien Is Now On Twitter

We’ll probably have more to say about this (ok, we definitely will), but for now, just go and follow: Conan O’Brien is now on Twitter.

Bio: “I had a show. Then I had a different show. Now I have a Twitter account.” And he just had his first tweet:

First tweet: Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.

(via @BigBley – former Tonight Show staffer and behind-the-scenes blogger Aaron Bleyaert):

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