20
Nov
08

Magpie / Twitter ad strategy isn’t the same as a blog ad strategy

After recently following Jeremiah Owyang (http://twitter.com/jowyang) on twitter, I came across his tweets about Magpie (inserts ads into your Twitter updates as though they were actually your tweets) being similar to having advertising on blogs. Before I go any further, I need to make it clear I have great, great respect for Jeremiah (I religiously read his blog – http://web-strategist.com/blog), HOWEVER I just happen to disagree with him on this point.

Anyway, Jeremiah cited the fact that TechCrunch puts ads in it’s RSS feeds whilst retaining 1.4million subscribers as proof Magpie can work (http://twitter.com/jowyang/status/1013860855), so I thought I’d stop twittering and break out a blog post to discuss further (there’s only so much you can discuss in 140 characters). My stance – having ads inserted in your twitter feeds is ALOT different to having ads on your blogs or RSS feeds. I’m not saying that having ads inserted in your twitter feeds will not happen, or that Magpie will not be successful in varying degrees. I think Jeremiah is spot on when he tweets “Marketers always follow crowds”. Marketers want a piece of Twitter, no doubt, and if Twitterers can make a buck out of it too, I’m sure there will be plenty of adapters.

However, what Magpie does is insert an ad as a twitter update (one ad tweet for every 5 normal tweets), which I think will bug the heck out of followers. We already know how annoying people find disruptive advertising on social network sites, so Magpie is definitely not the optimal way to advertise on Twitter, or indeed any social media, as it is completely disruptive. I don’t have the answer for effective advertising on Twitter, but if I follow someone and their every 6th tweet is an ad, their updates better be damn good to avoid me un-following you. There is enough noise on Twitter as it is, what with people keeping me updated that they are going to the gym or just back from the gym or haven’t been to the gym in 4 weeks, without more noise in the form of ads in my feed.

To further pursue Jeremiah’s point about TechCrunch’s  ads in their RSS feed, the RSS equivalent of Magpie is that you would have an entire blog / RSS update devoted to an ad. This would happen every 6th RSS update. It would be annoying. It would not fly. The ads in TechCrunch feeds are embedded within the post itself, so are much less disruptive (See pic below…) Google adSense for RSS Feeds does a similar thing.

snip_techcrunch_ad Example of an ad in TechCrunch RSS feed – not as intrusive.

Magpie is a cute service, don’t get me wrong. People are already adopting it – I’m sure others will follow suit. However, it is going to be annoying, and it is not the same as having ads on your blog, which by and large are now less intrusive. Jeremiah may well be correct in saying we’ll get used to ads in our twitter feeds – but until we start to see more people adopting Magpie and maybe some Forrester research into the effects (:D) I guess it’s all theoretical really.

Q: To anyone out there using Magpie, or who have anyone in their Followed list who uses it, what feedback do you have? Please comment below…

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10 Responses to “Magpie / Twitter ad strategy isn’t the same as a blog ad strategy”


  1. November 20, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Interesting post Nick. I definitely agree with you.

    You mentioned TechCrunch started putting ads in their RSS feeds, at the bottom – as do many other websites. Lifehacker Australia went one step further though in their RSS feed – every couple of items, let’s say every 20 or so, there was an advertising entry for Nokia. Many readers actually clicked through, expecting a review of the latest Nokia, and were very very disappointed when they realised it was just an ad – as evidenced by some of the comments on that post.

    You’re spot on – no one minds the small, discreet ads embedded within a post etc, but they DO mind when their flow is interrupted with advertising – after every five tweets, after every twenty RSS items, etc.

    What Lifehacker Australia seem to be experimenting with sounds to me to be very similar to what Magpie does.

  2. 2 marketingisadirtyword
    November 25, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Chris

    I hadn’t heard that about LifeHacker’s feeds. I checked out the link you included, and sure enough people were’t impressed 🙂 It’d be interesting to see if it was sufficient enough annoyance to make people remove the Lifehacker RSS from their feeds… proof is always in the pudding 🙂

  3. 3 dailysocial
    December 2, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    i actually un-followed a bunch of people that tweet ads every 5 minutes or so. it bothers me, because it’s not as personal as it was before the magpie tweets. it’s like getting paid to do personal conversation. it’s absurd.

  4. December 2, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    If we can agree that a full blog article of say 552 words or 3100 characters (the approximate length of your article above) inserted into an rss feed between 5 other blog articles of similar lenght is more obtrusive than a 728 x 90 banner ad as provided in your example, then can we also agree that a 140 character ad inserted into a twitter stream is less obtrusive than both a blog article insert and less obtrusive than techcrunch’s 728×90 banner ad insert? 🙂

    That’s kind of a hypothetical question. I don’t know the answer and suspect that it is truly in they eye of the beholder.

    I have not signed up to push magpie ads through my twitter stream.

    I did however run a $12 ad campaign through Magpie to see what the service looked and felt like. I suspected that if it was truly crap with no value ad, then the ethical debate would be a moot point lasting just long enough for the company to go out of business.

    While, I would not call my $12 campaign sample a success (generated 4 pageviews lol ) I would suggest that the service has potential and can likely work about as effectively as an Adwords campaign which uses or allows about half the characters that a Magpie campaign uses, which theoretically would also be less obtrusive if you only put a 120 x 90 adsense ad in the blog stream or something like that.

  5. December 6, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Thanks for the post, and for stating the dialogue. I’ve unfollowed a couple of folks now, because I *do* find the magpie tweete intrusive. The analog, for me, isn’t a paid blog post every five posts – it’s a paid line, every fifth line of every blog post that blogger writes. Magpie seems to have created an arms race, where the advertised resent being “used”, especially if they have a few hundred or more followers – and start to thnk perhaps they should make money off their “friends”, as well. It’s annoying, intrusive, and it creates resentment, which is something I could use less of, in my life.

  6. 6 lifeinbetween
    December 6, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Looked at a similar way, I don’t mind paid endorsements by celebrities or ads in online communications (or broadcast for that matter). But, Twitter is really more WOM communications and online idea sharing. Sure, call it microblogging. But it’s more organic and real-time than blogging in 140 characters or less.

    Using that premise, magpie undermines the trust in the tweeter or your appreciation for their value. What’s refreshing about Twitter is the FREE idea sharing/promoting/information users give out or that you can glean from the Twitter stream. Knowing someone was paid to do so completely undermines the value of the magpie tweet and that users ultimate motives for being on Twitter.

    After all, this isn’t Christie Brinkley endorsing Cover Girl. I may like what you have to say about social media or politics or movies but really don’t know you well enough to get excited if you start endorsing things thru magpie. Just saying.

  7. December 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    As a blogger in the make money online niche I’m up for trying just about anything, and I never really bought in to the idea that even following people was considered twitter spam because they have the freedom of choice whether or not to follow you back, some follow back their followers some don’t their choice. I ran into a roadblock where I couldn’t follow anyone, which I vehemently opposed.

    Even many of my followers agreed back that my tweets were a contribution to the community opposed to blatant twitter spam. The spammyest thing I do on twitter is auto ping.fm my blog posts. Which gets me some good incoming traffic.

    I think to really monetize on twitter one has to not so much advertise on twitter but bring your twitter influence and audience to your blog / products / services. I think there might be potential for perhaps paying someone a one off endorsement type ad every so often like pay-per-post.

    However every 5th tweet is definitely excessive. I believe a lot of twitterers are going to lose a lot of followers trying out the magpie ads, and in the end the only one profiting will be magpie – as long as it lasts. I wouldn’t be surprised also if twitter found a way to ban it completely – afterall this is way worse than the follow spam this is in your face blatant ‘look at me’ spam.

  8. 8 marketingisadirtyword
    December 8, 2008 at 9:45 am

    @ Money Making Blog – agree with you 100% in that the best use of twitter is as a traffci multiplyer for other, richer online resources. I’ve recently started linking to every new blog post on my twitter feed, and (although my followers list is fairly small) it drives an extra 20-25 hits per post.

  9. January 31, 2009 at 1:42 am

    A very interesting concept that can help make a little cash on the side :). However spamming your followers with irrelevant topics on a frequent basis, is something that i would avoid


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