What Twitter with ads might look like

Web technologist Niall Kennedy has done something very interesting with Twitter – he created TwitterFE.

[…] a fully-functional read-only clone of Twitter.com designed to make your web browser sing. I created the site as an example of web development best practices anyone can integrate into their web presence.

The new web front-end on TwitterFE.com features localized templates, expressive markup, distinct URL structures, integrated site search, geo-distributed dynamic and static servers, and more available features than Twitter.com.

So what does TwitterFE look like? Here’s my Twitter profile at twitterFE to give you an idea:


If your PC runs a particular different language to English, then you should get TwitterFE delivered in that language depending on which language it is, as Kennedy explains:

[…] I added a localization framework to the Twitter front-end to enable site content delivered in multiple languages. According to Google Trends Twitter’s top regional languages are English, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, and Spanish speaking regions. I isolated the site’s template strings and translated all key phrases into Spanish. Visitors with an Accept-Language header of es will receive template strings in Spanish.

That’s very useful and I’m sure Spanish speakers and others would find that of value (I know I would).

Kennedy’s post goes into considerable technical detail describing all the things he’s done with TwitterFE.

The primary aspect that struck me – I’m wearing my communicator’s hat rather than my tech one – was the display ad in the sidebar you can see in the screenshot above.

Kennedy isn’t suggesting that Twitter will have this, yet it gives a good visual idea of what display advertising delivered by Google within Twitter could look like (or something else, maybe a widget of some type). I could also see small text ads in each tweet, not that any are shown in the screenshot.

So this could be an idea of what a free Twitter could be, with a paid (subscription) Twitter being ad free. Add in all the functionality that Kennedy has created (especially supporting other languages) and you can easily see a potential and compelling Twitter offering on a far more global scale.

Food for though for the guys at Twitter as they think through their business plans.

[Later] a tweet from Bryan Person reminded me of Jeremiah Owyang’s post two days ago about Magpie, a third-party and self-described “ad network for Twitter.”

[…] Our customers sign up and create campaigns which consist of magpie-tweets (i.e. ads). Twitterers allow us to post magpie tweets among their tweets and for them to get paid for it.

Sounds similar (very broadly speaking) to what you might get with Google ads although Magpie seems to me to be a user-generated content idea rather than an algorithm-determined system like Google’s.

Read Jeremiah’s verdict on Magpie – and some very interesting opinion shared in his post’s comments.

Magpie and Niall Kennedy’s idea just illustrate where things could go with Twitter from a business point of view, whether from Twitter itself or from a third party.

And if all this looks just a bit too serious, check out Steve Lubetkin’s take on what we could possibly expect if in-tweet context advertising doesn’t quite work. :)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Twitter Is The Epitome of Social Media | One By One Media

    […] Neville Hobson showed us what we might expect to see as it relates to Twitter putting advertisements on its pages.  Frankly, if they don’t launch something soon, a third party (i.e. Magpie) may be in the works to do it for them. Of course, this may be their thought or plan to have someone else find and fund the way to making money for the company.  I continue to joke about the fact that people like Guy Kawasaki, and I will admit even myself would pay a monthly fee if they wanted to charge for the service. […]

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