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Q&A: Twitter exec explains new business plan

Goldman says 'promoted tweets' is Twitter's only advertising program -- for now

May 6, 2010 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Industry analysts are quick to say that Twitter Inc. is going through a big change these days, moving from an interesting idea on to what could become a sustainable business.

Jason Goldman, vice president of products at Twitter, however, says Twitter's first plan for generating revenue, its spread as a political tool throughout the world as well as other advances are all simply pieces of a long-thought-out plan of management. There have been some surprises along the way, but that's just part of Twitter's journey, added Goldman, who joined the social networking firm in 2007.

In an interview with Computerworld this week, Goldman talked to about the plan announced last month for generating advertising revenue, what businesses want from the microblogging site, who he follows on Twitter and what he thinks about tweeting on Apple's new iPad tablet.

What's your 'promoted tweets' -- or tweets purchased by businesses for posting at the top of selected search results pages -- plan announced last month? The first phase is to get a better understanding of how well promoted tweets perform and how well users react to them. Once this is done, we will roll out promoted tweets to be shown on Twitter clients. Beyond that, we're going to continue to refine and include promoted tweets outside of just search. Have relevant tweets in your user timelines.

What are other revenue generating parts of the new business plan? Promoted tweets is the big thing we're focused on. Another is the commercial accounts product. It's more speculative. It's about services we can provide for businesses to make their use of Twitter more affective. It's a feedback mechanism to let them see what users think of them. We may charge for that service. We may not. We're going to see stuff on that later this year.

Any other advertising plans in the works? No. We continue to learn and be open to other ideas but they have to pass the test. We're making a bet with promoted tweets. We're not working on other advertising plans. I'm not saying we won't someday, but we're not working that right now.

Is business use of Twitter increasing? We haven't categorized users as businesses or not ... but it's a minority. We have started working with businesses to build more services for them. They're looking for ways to understand the effectiveness of what they're doing on Twitter. So much of the activity happens outside of, so they need to know what happens through a longer lens at the whole ecosystem. How many people were engaged in the tweet I wrote on desktop clients compared to the tweet I did on a mobile phone?

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