People in the tech industry love speculating about two things, what Facebook is really worth and how Twitter will make money. The jury is still out on the first one but Twitter is adding more fuel to the fire by changing its tune and now saying that ads are in fact coming to the site. To add to the hype, Twitter isn't actually saying how and when but, not one for thinking small, the company claims it will be "fascinating," "non-traditional" and "really cool.”
Ads on a website is not exactly a revolutionary business model and not usually something to get excited about. The reason why everyone is aflutter about Twitter ads is because the company has been saying for a while now that ads were the last option when it came to generating revenue. Time and time again Twitter talked about “alternative” revenue streams and more innovative ways of making money.
So, why the sudden change of heart? Well, it's not exactly sudden and not a change of heart either. While the company said it wasn't planning on putting ads on the site, it didn't completely rule out the idea. In fact, a relatively recent change in Twitter's Terms of Service made provisions for advertising to be integrated with the service.
The new direction was revealed by the company's COO Dick Costolo at the Realtime CrunchUp conference. He didn't provide much details on how these “non-traditional” ads would look like or when to expect them. But it's not a complete change of course for Twitter, it still plans to introduce the much-talked-about premium accounts even as early as this year.
He did provide some details on other revenue streams Twitter might tap into, like selling analytics data to interested customers. This one is a no-brainer, the microblogging service is sitting on a gold mine of information, which could be worth a pretty penny to businesses. Finally, he also provided some interesting stats about the company like the fact that it already went past its goal of making $4 million this year. Costolo said that the 58 million users figure that had been floating around lately was lower that Twitter's actual user numbers but he didn't reveal them.