Posts Tagged ‘microblogging


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

After recently following Jeremiah Owyang ( 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 –, 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 (, 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…


Microblogging is still unprofitable: Why Can’t Twitter turn a profit?

Yammer has managed to start monetizing and is turning somewhere around the area of $200 a month in profit…. not exactly setting the world on fire, but they’re doing a damn site better than Twitter, who are still burning through venture capitalist’s money & are yet to turn a profit. With what are probably now the world’s 2 biggest microblogging platforms both unable to turn a reasonable profit, one has to ask – What is the best way for a microblogging service to turn a profit…

// first thought that pops into one’s head is “Ads”. Seems every man-and-dog wants to give people something for free / have it ad-funded these days. Which is great, but free (or more specifically, ad-funded) services have a snag – despite common perception, there is simply not a bottomless supply of Internet ads for us to roll out anywhere we like. The boom days of adding some adserver script to your blog / page and watching the dollars roll in are coming to a close. With tough economic times ahead, advertisers will move to either (1) online places where click-through rates on ads are proven to be the highest, or (2) where they can deploy a pay-per-click arrangement so they are not paying for ads that don’t work.

Twitter is neither of these places… firstly, Twitter’s user base tends to be cool-as-ice Gen-Y (see the graph I ‘borrowed’ from the Compete blog) who we know are skeptical of non-targeted advertisements. They have also been shown to modify their surfing behaviour in order to avoid / ignore ads. There goes the pay per click idea – click through rates will typically be pretty low, so Twitter’s income is limited if they choose pay-per-click.

Secondly, Twitter does not keep anywhere near enough data on it’s users to build user profiles robust enough to serve targeted ads well… if you have a look at your Twitter profile, the information they have actually collected is incredibly sparse. However, this second point is perhaps where Twitter’s opportunity for monetisation lies. Should it partner with someone like Microsoft or Google to do a meta-analysis of what individual users tweet about and then try to build profiles of Twitterers based on that, the targeted ad idea may yet work – at the very least, it will give Twitter and advertisers a good idea of products individual Twitterers might be interested in, and allow them to serve ads accordingly. The only problem is, it will take a partner the size of Microsoft or Google to supply the computing power required to make any sense of the tens of millions of tweets per day. I’m sure both companies would jump at the chance though (if anyone from MS or Google reads this and runs with that idea, you can check my about page for contacts details so you can send me my check:)).

Then, there are a whole host of other ideas… sponsored backgrounds like Photobucket have done, fees for additional/premium additions to your free service a la Flickr, subscription fees a la some of the premier tech support forums… or does Twitter even really need to turn a profit? Interested to hear other ideas…

UPDATE: there’s more on this topic in one of my more recent posts at


Twitter marketing… Who can and who can’t criticise it.

Every man and his dog has written a blog post about why Twitter is / isn’t the future of marketing. What works / doesn’t work. Why / why not to use it. Meh… I am, on the whole, over it (with two notable exceptions. The first is an excellent, excellent Twitter-related post on Chris Brogan’s blog on how to use it to track conversations about whatever topic you choose – it’s well worth a look. The second exception is an interesting stat read on the AusDev blog about attendees for Australia’s Tech.Ed event this year – the crowd are tech savvy digital natives, but only 6% are using Twitter… it’s still not that widely used by Joe Public, but let’s not go down that rathole right now).

I thought instead I’d throw a different spin on things and talk about whose opinions on the topic we should actually put value in, since everyone seems to have an opinion and there are some ‘interesting’ theories out there (the post is actually inspired by an article I came across via a friend – there are many other articles out there though that I feel somewhat miss the point of twitter). I’ve kept the lists short because I’m interested to see different / additional views to mine (or if anyone will actually leave comments at all 😀 )- please leave comments below.


  1. You get to criticise twitter if you’ve been using it for at least a month. Twitter is a “don’t knock it until you try it” kinda service. It’s definitely not like Facebook status updates. It’s definitely very different to having a corporate blog, which I’ve also seen suggested.
  2. You get to criticise twitter if you check semi-regularly on the status updates of your friends / customers / idols / future stalking victims
  3. You get to criticise Twitter if you ACTUALLY participate. When I say participate, I mean that you do more than just post. Broadcasting what you are doing is only part of twitter. Following what others are doing is another part of twitter, but still only a small part. To truly know the benefits and downfalls of twitter as a social media or as a marketing tool, you need to be doing both, aswell as responding to other people’s tweets. It’s a near-realtime conversation medium, not a broadcast medium.


  1. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if you think it is a type of broadcast media
  2. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if who have never tried it.
  3. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if you think you can achieve the same results with a corporate blog (I could point to some really poorly informed marketing blog posts at this point but won’t cos I’m not feeling terribly bitchy today). If you think this, see “Who Can’t” point #2
  4. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if you have less than 5 followers (I’m willing to renegotiate this one because you might be using it to stay in touch with close friends only in which case 5 followers is perfectly legitimate. However, with this being a marketing blog discussing marketing issues, you’re hardly likely to achieve your business objectives with Twitter if you’re reaching only 5 people)
  5. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if you’re in an industry where using Twitter is not appropriate. For example, there’s probably not likely to be many illiterate people using twitter, so why would, say, an adult reading school use it to market their wares?

Any more suggestions? Please comment below.

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