Twitter's Biz Stone explores money-making options
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Twitter's Biz Stone explores money-making options

Arun Sudhaman

[caption id="attachment_128" align="alignright" width="210" caption="Biz Stone"]Biz Stone[/caption] My 48 hours in Cannes were certainly eventful, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the event had barely started by the time I had to leave. Luckily I got the chance to interview the very affable Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. There will be a few upcoming PRWeek stories that will run based on this interview and his Hill & Knowlton seminar - but I thought it was also worth talking a little first about his plans to start monetising the Twitter engine. First up, Biz said that traditional advertising - like banners for example - was not the path that Twitter intended to take. Interestingly, he explained the reasoning in terms of the resources it would involve, versus the added benefit to users:
"Traditional ads like banners have not been high on our list of interesting things to do on Twitter, mostly because it takes away resources. We didn’t want to put the cart before the horse, put resources in areas where it may not actually work. What we’d rather do is focus on business resources that add value and relevance, and scale. That doesn’t mean we hate the idea of advertising – but traditional banner ads - I don’t think you will see those anytime soon."
Instead, Biz explained that they were look first to the success companies have had in communicating with customers. He pointed to Dell, which claims to have generated more than $3 million out of its Twitter customer service account. In terms of the specific techniques that they will start exploring, he said:
"Is this company who they say they are? Something simple like verification, would require effort on our part, so that is something that a company would be willing to pay for."
The second mechanism he described is one that would leverage Twitter's analytics and data:
"Companies and brands want to know a little bit more, they want to get a little bit more feedback on Twitter – it wouldn’t be too much trouble to offer some sort of lightweight stats package. Something that tells them 'am I doing well on Twitter?'"
It will be interesting to see what kind of metrics Twitter will offer, because companies will obviously need to feel that these stats are worth paying for. Will privacy issues arise? Reports have also surfaced that Twitter will consider charging for sponsored direct messages, although that doesn't really chime with the type of approach Biz appeared to be talking about. He was clear, though, that they are aiming for revenue growth this year - I imagine pressure from investors is a factor. And, he added, whatever they do will need to be scaleable, and will need to take into consideration the rapidly growing ecosystem of Twitter apps and developers. More on this and Biz's views on how Twitter is impacting the communications landscape will follow on PRWeek over the next week.
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