Bill Gross, who all but created paid search in the late 1990s when he founded GoTo.com, has launched TweetUp, an advertising ecosystem that does for Twitter search what AdWords (and other paid search platforms) does for web search. It’s not officially tied to Twitter, and will compete with Twitter’s expected ad platform (whenever it launches).
Twitter users — individuals and companies — can bid on keywords and have their profile or individual tweets show up in Tweetup’s sponsored listings when someone performs a Twitter search. Advertisers will initially pay on a cost-per-impression basis, not cost-per-click, whenever their profile or a tweet shows up in response to a search. The image at left (from Tweetup’s web site) shows Tweetup’s results separated into “Recommended Tweeters” and “Recommended Tweets.” TechCrunch reports that cost-per-click and even cost-per-new-follower ad models will be coming later.
TweetUp’s sponsored results will show up on partner sites such as Business Insider, Answers.com, and PopURLs, and on Twitter platforms such as Seesmic and Twitterfeed, among others. When there are no paid listings available for a search, TweetUp will show users and messages algorithmically, relying on help from Klout.com‘s rankings and analytics.
It seems remarkably similar to how GoTo.com started more than 10 years ago, when Gross created a search engine that allowed advertisers to pay for the most prominent rankings, above natural/organic results. GoTo.com eventually became Overture and was bought by Yahoo, spawned the idea for Google AdWords in the process, and search advertising was changed forever. (Apologies for trying to sum up paid search advertising in a couple sentences.)
The questions, at least from my perspective, seem to be:
- Will TweetUp get enough visibility on partner sites to make it worth an advertiser’s while to bid on keywords?
- If not, will it become something akin to a second-tier search advertising platform?
- Will advertisers instead choose to wait for Twitter’s rumored ad platform and advertise more directly that way?
- Will Twitter users value Tweetup’s paid results enough to use it instead of the many other Twitter search tools/sites that are available?
On that last question, keep in mind that skepticism toward anyone’s interest in paid search results was prevalent when GoTo.com launched in the late 1990s. In other words, don’t be surprised if TweetUp — at least the idea behind it, if not the current implementation — catches on in a big way a few years down the line.
Here’s more discussion on Techmeme.