Gasp! Advertising on Twitter with ad.ly & Sponsored Tweets… Is It Okay to Make Money?
November 18, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park
With the rising popularity of Twitter as an online social networking and communication channel, many businesses are using the tool in a variety of different ways including the following:
- spreading brand awareness
- directly interacting with customers
- syndicating links to related content
- running special promotions
In fact, Twitter has its own Twitter 101 Guide for businesses and includes basic how-to, best practices, and even case studies. There are quite a few big brands effectively utilizing Twitter with new ideas to gain traffic.
However, almost all of the marketing being done on Twitter right now is direct through company profiles and viral marketing (retweets). What if businesses wanted to spread awareness by paying prominent and influential Twitter users to advertise for them to their own audience? Is that allowed..?
Twitter currently has no such program and many cringe at the idea of incorporating advertisements into tweets. However, I think it can be a win-win situation for everyone involved and the advertising doesn’t have to be so bad.
Advertisers get a ton of exposure by leveraging the audiences of the top users and seeding viral campaigns. Users get paid handsomely for a bunch of sponsored 140 character messages. And Twitter is finally able to generate some revenue. Sure, you might argue that incorporating advertising may turn people off and hurt Twitter, but which communication channel today isn’t attached with ads? (TV, print, radio, blogs, web mail, etc) People seem to deal with it just fine. Besides, if Twitter doesn’t do it, third party sites will.
Which brings me to my next point…
Make Money with Advertising in Your Tweets
There are already a handful of startup ad networks that specialize in connecting advertisers with Twitter users willing to publish sponsored messages to their followers.
The networks with the most promise so far are ad.ly and Sponsored Tweets. ad.ly has received a considerable amount of funding and has the support of celebrity publishers like Kim Kardashian, Dr. Drew, and Brooke Burke and top advertisers like Microsoft, Sony, NBC, and Universal Pictures. Sponsored Tweets has Kendra Wilkinson, Bethanny Frankel, CarrotTop, and many more.
So how exactly does it work?
Advertisers on the ad.ly platform choose which Twitter users they’d like to pitch their advertisement to and submit bids. Users then have the option to either approve or deny the bid. If accepted, the advertisement message is automatically sent out, usually 4 times over the course of a week. Of course, the messages are marked as ad.ly ads as shown in the example below.
As for tracking metrics for advertisers, there’s a dashboard that displays clicks and estimated impressions for all targeted publishers. Of course, each campaign would need to be tested and tweaked to achieve maximum results.
How much money can you make?
After signing up as a publisher for ad.ly, the system gave me a suggested weekly price (~4 tweets) of $67. My personal Twitter account @gyutae has around 5,000 followers.
This is based on a quality score that doesn’t necessarily rely solely on the number of followers. For example, a Twitter user with a loyal following of just 500 could make more than someone with 5,000 random bot followers.
The rate that I got from ad.ly is considerably better than what Sponsored Tweets offers me per tweet – $6.05.
Obviously, the more followers you have and the more engaging you are on Twitter, the more money you can potentially make. Another reason to build up that Twitter account!
Money making examples
To give you some examples of what’s possible, John Chow recently made $1,000 for his first tweet (he has 50,000 followers) on ad.ly. Shoemoney made $15,000 in one month for tweets he sent out using ad.ly and Sponsored Tweets.
Very impressive – and these guys are very small compared to the celebrity Twitters out there. I don’t even want to know how much Kim Kardashian gets per tweet (a user with millions of followers gets 5 figures per tweet).
Advertising on Twitter – Does it work?
Personally I have not tried out any of the pay per tweet services as an advertiser, but I think it could bring interesting results. After all, if publishers are making a lot of money it means advertisers are making even more, right?
The main benefit that I see with Twitter advertising is that sponsored messages could lead to organic retweets and sharing. In other words, you could potentially get a lot more for your money by igniting a viral campaign starting with the ad networks. Of course this will require a lot of trial and error, but the strategy is definitely on my to do list for marketing my sites.
Check out some of the experiences other marketers have had using pay per tweet advertising from Sponsored Tweets and ad.ly:
- Is Paying For Tweets Worth It? – Shoemoney
- Sponsored Tweets: Results as an Advertiser – Ian Fernando
- Sponsored Tweets: a case study in Twitter marketing fail – eConsultancy
- Sponsored Tweets Review – Eric Nagel
Results are mixed so far, but like I said, Twitter advertising requires quite a bit of testing before finding something that works.
What do you think about ad.ly, Sponsored Tweets, and the other pay per tweet ad networks? Would you use them as either a publisher or advertiser? Leave your experiences and thoughts in a comment here!If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.