I don’t often write about stuff that’s coming, choosing to stick mostly with stuff that’s here and practical now, but a service in public beta intrigues me enough to mention before it’s really off the ground and flying.
The service is called TweetUp and the simplest way to describe it is to call it a search engine for Twitter with sponsored results. Now, before everyone on Twitter gets up in arms about how sponsored results will ruin Twitter, cast back about ten years when the same was said about sponsored or paid results in search. TweetUp is being launched by Bill Gross, the same guy that started and later sold the first paid search platform GoTo.com/Overture to Yahoo. Sponsored search is something we’ve grown to live with and expect – can TweetUp be the first step to an Adsense kind of world on Twitter?
The service is offering $100 credit to first 1000 people that sign up to use the service and bid on key words. They are also taking applications for publishers to run their search bar and widget for a 50/50 revenue share.
Of course it’s worth noting that Twitter is also creating its own sponsored search model and while I like what TweetUp is doing better, Twitter does own the content stream and has a leg up there. (Although Gross has proven he knows how to make money with search and Twitter hasn’t proven it knows how to make money with much of anything.)
The way TweetUp works is that publishers like Seesmic, Business Insider, and Answers.com (to name a few that have enrolled) run the TweetUp widget or search box and when people search for topics on Twitter they are shown relevant sponsored tweets that are based on keyword bidding and an algorithm that promises to bring tweets from those with the most cred to the top. Theoretically bringing better content to your searches and helping those bidding on the keywords to build larger following and keep the highest quality tweets in circulation longer.
On a somewhat related thread, I think real opportunities to mine Twitter for dollars exist in niches being explored by 3rd party services like TweetMyJobs. Filtering and aggregating Twitter data in ways that make it useful for specific applications or industries is something that could be very interesting.
Certainly this spaces may or may not evolve over the next few months and years, but one thing is likely certain – sponsored tweets will be tested.
Finally, I think it’s odd that the name TweetUp was chosen as it’s a term that has existed in the Twitter lexicon for some time to describe a live meet up of folks participating on Twitter. A search for the term TweetUp mostly turns up mentions of these events.