There has been so much conjecture as to how Twitter will start monetizing. Well, it looks like there have been a few baby steps in the form of “sponsored definitions” that cycle through right above the Home link on the navigation bar. It is very subtle and I didn’t notice it myself until today (Seth Simonds has been talking about this since June 23rd).
You won’t see these sponsored definitions every time as they’re interspersed with Twitter definitions that are not sponsored but simply informational or helpful, I guess. An example of a sponsored definition is Exec Tweets and Cinema Tweets — essentially text ads in the guise of being factoids and links to useful apps and services.
According to a blog post I found on blog.twitter.com from back in March, it looks like Federated Media is handling the Twitter sponsored definitions, “It turns out the folks over at Federated Media have both the resources and the expertise. So if you’re a major brand and you want to sponsor a topic-focused social media experience with Twitter, we suggest Federated Media—they’ll fix you up right,” which could be a real score for Federated.
Twitter has done a very good job of working this is organically — I never noticed it, as I said, until this morning.
Doing a cursory search, nobody is freaking out and there hasn’t been any direct reference to advertising on Twitter short of a coy post on May 20 — Does Twitter Hate Advertising?, “Do we hate advertising? Of course not. It’s a huge industry filled with creativity and inspiration. There’s also room for new innovation in advertising, marketing, and public relations and Twitter is already part of that.”
So, no direct mention of the “sponsored definition” campaign. Very smooth and with zero blowback.
That said, if you have a Twitter app or service and want to get into the loop, I guess you should reach out to Federated Media, though I wonder if there might be a secret handshake or password to get yourself into an ad on Twitter.
And, to look at the Twitter-to-come, Seth Simonds also mentions that there are proper 185px ×185px image ads showing on Twitter Japan, which you can see for yourself, “You can see for yourself by visiting the account settings of your Twitter account and changing the language preference to Japanese.” — in this case, the ad is static and sells Windows 7 and Windows Vista from the Japanese Microsoft Store.