One of the places this truth is on stark display is when media companies attempt to balance the demands and expectations of advertisers and users.
As Twitter evolves from a technology company that was focused on serving users to a media company (at least in its business model) attempting to balance the demands of both marketers and users, the conflict is in full view.
I am both a Twitter user and an advertising buyer. As someone with a perspective from both sides, I believe Twitter is in a position to overcome this challenge by making a pledge that protects the experience for users while allowing them to develop effective offerings for marketers.
What Twitter Needs To Deliver
Before we get the Twitter’s pledge, here is what Twitter’s pledge needs to deliver.
- A sustainable business structure for Twitter that allows them to continue to exist.
- A commitment to maintaining Twitter as a valuable platform for personal and professional discussion and engagement.
- Effective options for marketers.
How To Make (Almost) Everyone Happy
Below is the pledge I would like to see Twitter make. This pledge protects the user experience, can support a revenue model that supports Twitter’s recent valuation ($8 Billion USD) and provides a number of options for advertisers.
1. We Pledge To Limit Paid Tweets In Your Stream
We understand you use Twitter to follow other Twitter users, read their Tweets and engage with them and too many Paid Tweets will harm the functionality of Twitter.
Paid Tweets on Twitter will never be more than 1% of all Tweets shown to any user (most users will see fewer Paid Tweets than this).
2. We Pledge to Deliver the Most Relevant and Interesting Paid Tweets Possible
To deliver the most relevant and interesting Paid Tweets to you, we will require all advertisers to target Paid Tweets, giving them a very real incentive to only deliver the most relevant Paid Tweets to every Twitter user.
We will require all Twitter Paid Tweet campaigns to target specific audiences, such as Twitter users interested in cars, horses, family or music, specific demographics (ie age, gender) or other targeting options we will offer over time. Specifically, we will require audience target to include no more than 15% of Twitter users in a given area.
In addition, advertisers with Paid Tweet programs that you engage with will be prioritized and programs with very low engagement rates will be stopped, giving advertisers another incentive to deliver the most targeted and relevant content.
By requiring targeting, advertisers will be forced to create more targeted and relevant campaigns. As targeting and relevance improve, both the value of interaction and the interaction rate will increase, improving Twitter’s revenue potential while improving the experience for users.
3. We Pledge To Give You Control Of The Information Used To Target Paid Tweets
Did we mess up and decide you are interested in topics you really are not interested in? We will allow you to review and modify the interests we have assigned to your account. After all, it’s your stream, you control what is in it.
By giving users control of their profile, Twitter maintains openness with users and allows users to refine the types of Paid Tweets they receive.
4. We Pledge To Look Beyond Advertising Opportunities
We will actively develop offerings for marketers that go beyond advertising and will emphasize opportunities that improve your experience. From custom profile pages to market research to additional communication options, such as allowing you to direct message a company even if they are not following you, we will develop offerings for advertisers that do not add additional Paid Tweets to your stream.
Revenue streams beyond advertising expand Twitter’s revenue base without adding advertising that competes with the content that we expect to see on Twitter.
Twitter, like any other company, will not be able to please everyone in every constituency, but if Twitter lives by this pledge, I believe they will be able to develop a viable business model while continuing to be a valuable platform for users.
What pledges do you believe Twitter needs to make to users? Share them in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).