As Twitter continues to search for a business model to generate revenue, it appears some players looking to piggyback paid ads are emerging. Ironically, everyone makes money in this scenario except for the 140-character microblogging service.
Sponsored Tweets, a dedicated platform for ad-supported tweets on Twitter, could become a goldmine for the actual sponsored tweeters. IZEA, which focuses on sponsored conversations, will launch the platform with 200 tweeters on July 20. About 5% are celebrities, including Holly Madison of reality show "Girls Next Door" fame. Aside from the former-Playboy Magazine photo editor, other participating celebs come from sports, television, and radio.
Those 200 people in the network who tweet can reach more than 1 million people, Ted Murphy founder and CEO at IZEA, tells Online Media Daily. "It's not about how many followers they have," he says. "It is how many people they can reach in aggregate."
The cost per tweet (CPT) will run an advertiser between $2 and $30,000 per tweet for a 140-character message. The message goes from one Twitter account to as many people as the person has following. "An advertiser who wanted to test the system paid $2,500 last week," Murphy says.
Traditional media companies broadcasting messages about stories their reporters write will have an opportunity to monetize the Twitter streams. Murphy calls the model "transparent and measurable," comparing it to eBay, which connects buyers and sellers. He says IZEA is doing the same thing only with sponsored conversations on Twitter.
Every link tweeted has a link that tracks the message. That link integrates with Google Analytics to track the tweeter that generates sales. This means advertisers can tie the message, lead and sale back to an individual account. It's a measure that has been missing from social media campaigns.
Advertisers can browse through a network of Tweeters sorted by keyword, category, geography, following, ratio of friends to followers, and more. They purchase one tweet or a wide-scale campaign. Messages are fully disclosed. The tweeter retains control over the messaging and the account, either approving or declining any advertiser.
Sponsored Tweets is built on Ruby on Rails application with a MySQL database for the backend, and hosted on Amazon EC2, a cloud computing platform. It relied on an OAult for Twitter to support security.