Of Twitter, Google, Dom DeLuise, Adam Lambert -- And Advertising
Today, I'm sitting here trying to parse the following bits of information from the increasingly confusing social-media-o-sphere:
- Twitter cofounder Biz Stone says the company isn't looking into advertising to make money, but things like selling "light analytics" to companies, maybe doing revenue-sharing with mobile phone companies so we can Twitter our way, using our mobile devices, to distraction. (Is death-by-Twitter-possible? Yes, if you Twitter while driving.)
- Google and Twitter both seem to be predicting that Adam Lambert will be this season's winner of "American Idol."
- And Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt said at the Google Zeitgeist conference in London yesterday that Twitter made them wake up to the possibilities of real-time search.
So Google's revenue base is almost solely in advertising, Google thinks it needs to do real-time search, and Twitter says it doesn't give a rat's ass about advertising as a revenue model. Meanwhile, I'm thinking how great it would be for the businesses involved, starting at 10:07 p.m. EST -- the minute that Fox is saying "American Idol" will be over -- started uploading text ads to promote the winner's first single, available now on iTunes! (Note to now-disgusted readers: For the purposes of this column, I'm ignoring concerns about the user experience. So there.)
Google will do this, and when the day comes that it gets really good at indexing real-time content, it will hope to reap even more monetary reward. Twitter, by Stone's indications, won't.
So, does that mean Twitter is foolish to not look at advertising as a revenue stream? It may sound like I think the answer is yes, but I honestly don't know.
While I totally agree with my fellow MediaPost columnist Joe Marchese that Google is "poorly equipped" to provide the kind of real-time search that Twitter does, does that make it monetizable via advertising? Or is it more useful as a massive database of trending topics, which can be sliced and diced in ways to fit almost every company's need to know?
Let's look at this question through the lens of trending topics on Twitter as I write this. The top trending topic right now is this strange little meme called #filmfoodeating. (From what I can tell, it consists of people tweeting renamed movies to give them a food focus, as in "Monty Python and The Search for the Holy Gruel," "When Harry Met Salad," etc.) Does Burger King see this, get on the horn to the people at Twitter and say, hey, order me up some text ads with our latest coupon? I don't know.
What about when Dom DeLuise died, and, like most recently passed celebrities, was a trending topic for about a day? I was talking to Craig Engler, the general manager of Sci-Fi Digital this morning, and the network, via tweets from DeLuise fans, actually decided to air an episode of "Stargate" in which he starred, several days after his death. That's wonderful intel for Sci-Fi (soon to be Syfy) and fits in with Biz Stone's theory that Twitter is one hell of a database. But does Dom DeLuise's brief tenure as a trending topic create a revenue stream, or does he fade out of the Twitter consciousness before that can happen? I don't know.
I'll close by saying that many of you who read this column frequently know that sometimes the Social Media Insider isn't a place you go for answers, but to hear someone struggling with questions. This is one of those times. You can provide your answer by commenting.