Sponsored Tweets Take Flight for Popular Twitter Users

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Ads are finally gaining traction on Twitter through sponsored tweets. These tweets, marked (ad) or “ad,” can net users up to $10,000 each from big sponsors like Sony and Microsofit. The San Francisco Chronicle has more on this phenomenon:

“Twitter is the evolution of the Web page,” said Sean Rad, the 23-year-old chief executive of Ad.ly Inc., a Beverly Hills company that has gained publicity by bringing advertisers to celebrity tweeters such as Burton, model-actress Kim Kardashian, who has 2.7 million followers, and rapper Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, who has 1.9 million followers.

“Content is shifting from static pages to the stream,” Rad said. “Everyone from CEOs to celebrities to random joes are all producing content. If there’s anything that Ad.ly has shown, it’s that the largest influencers on Twitter have an interest in being compensated for the value they’re creating for the ecosystem.”

In the past six months, companies like Ad.ly, Sponsored Tweets of Orlando and newcomer MyLikes of San Francisco have launched services to broker ad deals between Twitter users and sponsors. The tweets are supposed to be marked with notations such as “(ad)” or “#ad” to comply with new Federal Trade Commission guidelines governing advertisements or endorsements by bloggers, experts and celebrities.

MyLikes, founded by former Google executives Bindu Reddy and Arvind Sundararajan, emerged from beta mode last week with a roster of advertisers like 1-800-Flowers.com and about 30,000 Twitter users. MyLikes campaigns pay Twitter to post up to one sponsored tweet per day. In return, they receive 20 cents to 80 cents for each click-through on ad links, depending on how MyLikes rates their influence or relevancy to the sponsor. Longtime Internet tech blogger Chris Pirillo, for example, earns about 74 cents per click from MyLikes, Reddy said.

Ad.ly and Sponsored Tweets pay Twitter users by the tweet but say the click-through rates are high. One recent Ad.ly campaign that started with 37 tweets generated 10,000 re-tweets in two days, said Rad, whose firm launched in September and is already cash-flow positive.

Twitter now has 60 million users, according to the article. No wonder advertisers are chomping at the bit to get in.

Ad-free Twitter currently provides several services for users. Staying up-to-date with your friends and people you admire, keeping up with real-time news, discussing topics in groups, getting positive attention by retweeting, and marketing yourself or your business. Putting ads on Twitter will amp up the marketing component, but clutter the updates and news. I wonder whether the move will eventually make Twitter less desirable for its original users (the updaters) and make it more of a marketing tool.