Would you pay to have your tweets show up in a Twitter search for keywords? That’s what Bill Gross, a veteran of paid search advertising and founder of tech incubator Idealab, believes, and he’s launched his new TweetUp tweet search engine to prove it.
The idea behind TweetUp, which launched today, is simple: if you want to build your Twitter following for a particular niche, bid on keywords in your tweets to get better noticed in searches. There will also be algorithms in place to serve up the most relevant tweets for a search. Factors include popularity and the influence of a user; e.g., ratio of number of retweets to followers, as well as previous topic-specific tweeting).
Paying to show up in search results presumably benefits Twitter users who want to get recognized as experts on various topics. Current sponsored tweeters include Al Gore, Ariana Huffington, Richard Branson, and others. Current bidding on keywords is currently anywhere from a few cents to a dollar. Select Web site publishers are also monetizing TweetUp by integrating search results on their site. The revenue split in this case is 50/50.
Current investors in TweetUp include Idex Ventures, betaworks, Revolution LLC, First Round Capital, Jason Calacanis and Jeff Jarvis, with funds totalling US$3.5M. The company currently has ten employees. Gross is credited with the idea of paid search, via his Goto.com site, launched in 1999, which later became Overture Services and was purchased by Yahoo. (Note: at least one other search engine, created by Open Text Corp., mixed in paid listings as early as circa 2006.)
As interesting as this concept is, do you think tweets, with their 140 characters, contain enough information to warrant establishing your authority on a topic, let alone paying for others to know that? If you do, signup and take advantage of their free $100 account for the first 1,000 users.