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Twitter adds business model

November 20, 2009 | 12:37 pm

Twitter Bird

Feeding the Twitter bird. Credit: wharman via Flickr.
The twitterati today are aflutter about a few crumbs that Twitter Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo dropped during an interview with TechCrunch's Michael Arrington on how the microblogging service plans to make money.

With millions of people, organizations and businesses now using the service, there is keen interest in keeping the little blue Twitter bird alive. The question has always been: How?

Costolo today supplied a partial answer: Ads. But these won't be your father's Chevrolet ads. Twitter ads will be "fascinating," "non-traditional" and "really cool," Costolo said. "People will love the ads when they see it."

Another potential source of revenue: Charging customers who want to see their Twitter data, such as how many people click on the links and who's following whom. In industry parlance, such data are called analytics, and they give users an idea of which of their tweets are more effective at reaching an audience and whether readers are acting on those tweets.

Costolo dropped another morsel when he singled out Foursquare's Dennis Crowley as a "genius." (Foursquare lets users broadcast their geographic location, along with what they are doing: "In Century City, looking for good Indian food.")

How does this fit in with making money? Costolo didn't say. But the ability for advertisers to know where people are and what they are in the mood for is incredibly valuable.

With $155 million in venture funding, Twitter isn't in a huge hurry, but Costolo promised that the ads will be rolled out in 2010.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

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