I‘m at TechCrunch’s Real-Time CrunchUp, an interesting conference in San Francisco on the booming subject of Web sites and services that move just as fast as the rest of the world does–Twitter, some aspects of Facebook, and lots more. The first session this morning was a conversation between TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington and Twitter’s COO, Dick Costolo. And Costolo said that Twitter is gearing up to add advertising to the service.
We will have an advertising strategy. You will see that from us in the future. It will be fascinating, non-traditional, and people will love it.
We want to do something that’s organic, like the way it happened with Google. It will work with the tweets. People will love the ads when they see it.
That would seem to be a significant shift in strategy for Twitter: In the past, its executives have famously dismissed advertising for not being sufficiently “interesting.” Now, Costolo is saying the company’s working on something that isn’t just interesting–it’s fascinating!
There are a million ways ads could go wrong on Twitter. (I’ve mocked up one of them in the fake screen shot to the right.) Costolo is presumably telling us that the advertising wont be anything as conventional as banner ads or Google-style text links, or the mere insertion of tweets that are controlled by marketers. You gotta think it’s something that involves leveraging what Twitter knows about your friends and interests to provide ads that are more theoretically relevant; other than that, I have no guesses about the details.
Facebook’s ill-fated Beacon ads remain a good case study in just how sensitive companies need to be when they meld personal information about their customers with an advertising message. But I’m not instinctively opposed to ads showing up on Twitter–hey, it would be hypocritical–and one way or another, I want the site to figure out a way to make enough dough to stay in business for the long haul.
Your gut reaction, please?