Advertising has been around on Twitter in a variety of forms for a while, but it seems that it's maturing beyond being all porn webcams.
One part of this has been celebrities with large Twitter followings leveraging those followers to make cash. Sites like Ad.ly and SponsoredTweets.com are paying for tweeting out advertisements, with more money going to those with larger followings.
One recent convert to Twitter advertising is someone I follow on my own account, actor/comedian Michael Ian Black. He wrote a funny (though somewhat defensive) article about it on his blog titled "In Defense of Twittertising."
"I provide a valuable service (a constant stream of dick jokes) to Twitter for free," writes Black. "As of today, I’ve written 2,655 tweets. That’s a lot of free material, all of it contributing to the entertainment of the 1.5 million people who follow me, as well as the multi-billion dollar capitalization of Twitter itself. When presented with an opportunity to get some return on my investment of time and energy, why not take it?"
He compared advertising on Twitter to a DJ reading advertisements on the radio. (Sidebar: Do people still listen to DJs on the radio?)
Black also offered a rather hard-nosed look at the economic realities and the likely response of some fans. "There will always be a group who become upset with their favorite actor/musician/writer/racecar driver/whatever when that person accepts money instead of remaining 'pure.' I get that. I was probably like that too when I was sixteen. But the real world has a way of intruding on people’s ideals, and my mortgage doesn’t care that much about my indie cred."
The largest get for Ad.ly to date has been Kim Kardashian, with 4 million Twitter followers and counting; Kardashian reportedly makes $10,000 per sponsored tweet. Ad.ly says that ads coming from their network are clearly marked as advertising, ending with "(Ad)" and the source noted as being the Ad.ly network.
Twitter is keeping a close eye on advertising via Twitter, though, and it looks like the Ad.ly model may be in trouble according to some reports.
How do you feel about advertising on someone's Twitter account? Is it a fair use of someone's Twitter account, or do you feel there's something unethical/unseemly/unpleasant about it? Would you have a problem with it if the tweets weren't clearly marked as being sponsored?
(Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images)