Since the announcement Wednesday that Twitter had purchased TweetDeck, the official word from both companies has been that they will “continue to invest in the TweetDeck that users know and love.” However, the subtext has been that they will target TweetDeck at the “power” Twitter users, those who need advanced features. And herein exists the possibility that Twitter will transform the now-free TweetDeck into a money-making utility, with new ad products designed just for the platform.
Power users are always the most monetizable group of any service. They’re willing to pay for Farmville coins every month to buy the newest colors of hay bale, and they’re the ones who rush out on opening night of a movie, eager to see it multiple times in theaters.
Perhaps the best hint that TweetDeck will slowly be adapted to suit Twitter’s power users comes from Iain Dodsworth, the founder of TweetDeck:
“The mainstream Twitter user-base is well catered for by twitter.com and the official mobile clients. And by becoming part of the official platform, TweetDeck will now fill that role for brands, influencers, the highly active and anyone that just needs “more power”.”
Brands, influencers, the highly active and those who need more Twitter power – couldn’t say “power users” any clearer.
So for Twitter, they’ve just purchased a significant chunk of their own power users with the acquisition of TweetDeck. And now they’ve got to monetize them.
Twitter has a chance to target ads towards TweetDeck users much more effectively than they are currently doing with Twitter.com. As it stands, Promoted Tweets appear at the top of search results for terms that an advertiser purchases, or at the top of a trending topic result. This is somewhat refined, as the person viewing the Promoted Tweet will have chosen to search for the particular term it’s associated with, but this approach lacks the demographic- and interest-based targeting that Facebook provides.
To justify the high price they paid for TweetDeck, I think Twitter has got to come up with a way to monetize those power users on the platform beyond just serving up the current Promoted Products offerings.
Of course, Twitter could introduce a “TweetDeck Pro”, subscription-based model, offering power users attractive analytics and advanced features for a monthly fee, while leaving TweetDeck basic free. But they also have access to much more information about each of these power users now that they’ve acquired TweetDeck, and I think this opens up the possibility for more targeted, and more effective, ads as well.
TweetDeck users organize their Twitter experience into streams or columns, each one containing tweets from a list, a category, a topic or a search term. Now that Twitter has access to these streams, they have a much more precise understanding of what their power users care about – and knowing this they can target their ads towards the specific interests of each TweetDeck user.
We’ll see what direction Twitter takes TweetDeck in the coming months, but one thing’s for sure: they’ve got to start making money from it, and quick, if they want to justify the high price tag and what some are calling a purely defensive purchase.