When I posed the question, ‘How will Twitter monetise…?’, at the tail end of last week, I didn’t expect the answer to be quite so immediate. Today it has been announced that Twitter are holding talks with both Google and Microsoft to seal a deal that will see feeds being shown alongside standard search results.
This is a move that has been some time in the making. Bing stole a march on Google at the beginning of July by integrating the tweets of a select band of Twitterati royalty (as covered in our blog post, ‘Bing Unleash Real-Time Search’). Whilst Twitter has struggled to find a way to make money from its hugely popular service, the search engines have been seeking ways to tap into its real-time capabilities. A match made in heaven, surely.
Initial reports suggest that the Twitter team are talking to executives at both Microsoft and Google; although it remains unclear whether they favour either, both or maybe even neither. Details are a little sketchy but it appears as though Twitter will be looking to tap into some of the search engine’s huge advertising revenue by affording them the chance to mine their data.
A shrewd move, particularly if it comes off. Firstly Twitter won’t have to sell advertising on their own pages, therefore they won’t suffer the backlash of disgruntled members. Secondly, the Twitter service will suddenly become available to an even wider audience, helping to cajole a few more to sign up. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, they can finally establish a continuous and productive revenue stream.
On the other hand Google and Bing will also get what they have been looking for, real-time data. People follow trends and want to know the latest news as it happens, which has accounted for much of Twitter’s popularity. Whilst Facebook may be bigger in terms of audience, Twitter has cornered the market in information sharing; and whilst they still maintain that position, it is surely time to cash in.
As with most business deals, you can expect this to be protracted and have various twists throughout the negotiations. Whilst it will be interesting to see what the outcome is, it will surely be more interesting to see how quickly and what the effect of this Twitter/search engine integration will be.
Whilst I suggested that the news on Twitter’s monetising plans should be expected ‘in the coming months’ following their major investment, this wasn’t quite what I envisaged. Most people could have foreseen that significant investment would lead to equally significant development; but this, on the face of it, appears to be Twitter really getting their act together and ensuring they remain vital and a major part of both search and communication.