It seems like Twitter is finally finding its revenue model. At one point, the only way for an advertiser to generate buzz on the worldâ€™s most popular micro-blogging website was to tweet and be re-tweeted. Hopefully, if the company was well-known enough or the topic went viral, the topic being tweeted about would make it to the holy grail of Twitter: the Trending Topics list. A small box to the right of the main page, Trending Topics a reflect what is being most tweeted about in a user-specified area. All Twitterers see the Trending Topics box, so to appear there guarantees even more exposure.
Twitter is now changing that. Advertisers can now pay to be featured in Trending Topics – and so far, it seems to be a hit with advertisers. Coca-Cola is the second company (after Disney/Pixar) to buy a sponsored trend. Rumoured to cost tens of thousands of dollars, Coke’s trend was timed to coincide with world cup fever, when traffic on Twitter would be the heaviest.
Coke reported 86 million views, with a user engagement rate of 6%.Â I think that is a pretty healthy return on investment – and quite a step forward for Coke, who could have just as easily shelled out millions of dollars for a more traditional advertising campaign.
One minor concern is the relevance of trending topics to users. If they know that certain trends are being paid for (or the tweet within certain trends are being paid for), how interested will they really be? It will be interesting to see if user engagement drops as sponsored tweets become more ubiquitous. However, I doubt that will ever happen; Googleâ€™s AdWords connect people with the products theyâ€™re searching for every day, so it will be interesting to see if Twitterâ€™s sponsored tweets manage to do the same.