Dennis Miller, general partner at Spark Capital, which is a large investor in Twitter, declined to answer Media Link Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan's question "What's the home page of Twitter worth?" -- but did provide a perspective on the company and social media in this turbulent economic environment.
"You're better asking the other folks here in terms of perception," Miller said, turning toward the packed room at the OMMA Global New York conference on Monday for feedback. "Whatever it is today, it will be worth more tomorrow."
Miller called today's environment for traditional ad agencies and media "daunting," because the principal assets are 30-second spots supported with 80% local advertising. It's no secret that margins are thin, and the average CMO has only been on the job 21 months. Many don't have institutional knowledge or the relationships required to succeed.
There's tremendous pressure from clients on ad agencies to become successful in all types of social media platforms, and yet the amount of labor involved in buying effectively online is daunting, Miller said.
But as applications become interconnected, buying media could become more complicated. For example, MySpace reported Monday that it has added functions such as status updates that allow people to sync-up with Twitter. News Corp., the parent company of MySpace, says the new features are part of an ongoing effort to make it simple for people to share their status beyond MySpace and allow friends and followers to interact with content across the Web.
Miller still continues to "lean in" when analyzing investments of companies relying on an ad-supported model to generate revenue. The advertising and the media businesses are so "screwed up" right now, because there's so "much paranoia and little clarity" that it's a good time to be an arbitrage investor. That's what venture capital investors typically do -- take big risks and hope they pay off down the road.
Spark Capital has invested heavily in social media. And while Miller is "bullish that money will follow the eyeballs" in social media, it's not clear that people who Twitter will keep up the tweets.
Crowd Science will release a study Tuesday revealing that 24% of Twitter users have never tweeted or have stopped tweeting. Only 27% of Twitter users tweet daily, while 46% check updates.
Thirty-two percent of people who tweet feel they spend too much time using social media; nearly a quarter -- 22% -- say they have written things on social media that they've later regretted; and 16% report that they often neglect important activities to spend time on social media.
And while people have regrets about saying more than they should online for all to read, a quarter of those who tweet say social media is their favorite leisure activity, compared with 14% of non-Twitter social media users.
The Crowd Science study on Twitter and other social media users was conducted across more than 600,000 visitors to multiple Web sites within the Crowd Science open research network. The survey, targeting social media users age 12 and up, was conducted Aug. 5-13.