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Strategic insights
No, Sponsored Tweets is Not a Revenue Model For Newspapers

Written by on January 8, 2013

Yesterday we could read that Associated Press will start to tweet sponsored tweets from advertising partners:

The Associated Press announced today that Samsung will be the first company to provide sponsored tweets to the news agency's primary Twitter account.

The innovative advertising will appear twice a day this week (Jan. 7-11), timed with the 2013 International CES - the consumer electronics show -- in Las Vegas.

The effort builds on AP's expansion into new advertising for mobile and social media.

The AP's flagship Twitter account has more than 1.5 million followers. The tweets will be labeled "SPONSORED TWEETS" and the content for those tweets will be provided by Samsung and handled by staff outside the AP newsroom.

The AP developed internal guidelines in recent months so that it may build new business models in the new media landscape without compromising its newsroom values and principles.

We are thrilled to be taking this next step in social media," said Lou Ferrara (https://twitter.com/LouFerrara), the AP managing editor overseeing the newsroom social media efforts. "As an industry, we must be looking for new ways to develop revenues while providing good experiences for advertisers and consumers. At the same time, advertisers and audiences expect AP to do that without compromising its core mission of breaking news.

http://www.ap.org/Content/Press-Release/2013/AP-provides-sponsored-tweets-during-electronics-show

Is this a good idea? Is this a form of revenue for newspapers? In short, no ... and there are several reasons:

Update: See the click-through rates for these tweets

First, It's not exactly innovative. It has been done, over and over and over again... to the point that it's now the standard business model for several social services.

Secondly, People really don't like it... We kind of accept promoted posts and/or sponsored posts from the platforms themselves, because we know that's the price we have to pay for those services. But people don't accept it from the brands using the same services.

Just look at the many brands and celebrities who tried and later stopped because of the negative feedback.

Thirdly, While you can do this right now there is no way Twitter is going to allow this in the future. Twitter's entire business model is to provide promoted services directly to brands. When AP (and others) start to offer it via their own services, Twitter looses potential revenue.

It's only a matter of time before Twitter blocks this in order to maintain their own business model. With this, the Associated Press is competing directly with Twitter, using Twitter's services as the platform.

As long as only a very few people do it, Twitter is not going to do much about it. But when huge companies like AP and Samsung get together to use Twitter as their advertising platform, without paying Twitter for promoting the posts, a conflict emerges.

Theoretically, it's not a bad idea. But Twitter, like all the other social services, is just something you rent. And, I'm sorry to say, this, but I just don't see this business model having any long term survival rate.

In fact, I don't think any newspaper can create a business model that uses a rented service (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc) to provide 3rd party advertising. As soon as it starts to work, these services will move in and close it down.

As a newspaper, you cannot monetize a service that you don't own. Just as you cannot sell advertising space on billboards that you do not own.

These are not the droids you are looking for...

Update: See the click-through rates for these tweets

Read also: Rented or Owned: Where To Focus Your Brand Content.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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