Will Ad Self-Service Help Twitter?

It looks like Twitter is taking steps to emulate Google ... again. And frankly, this isn't a bad idea.

It looks like Twitter may be creeping toward self-service ad purchasing. For those keeping score at home, this was a real money-maker for Google, and Twitter has emulated the search engine giant’s monetization efforts in the past.

On Twitter’s business site, there’s now a form prospective advertisers can complete to get the ball rolling, a new development according to Business Insider, but it’s still a far cry from the full ad self-service model that Google has in place. If nothing else, this could give Twitter access to smaller advertisers and shorten the time it takes to complete deals – leading to a fuller pipeline and shorter path to monetization. The article on Business Insider adds, “It’s not yet a self-serve form, just a contact form, but it’s clearly the direction they’re headed to.”

Without a way for prospective advertisers to engage Twitter, the company had to rely on a sales force to stimulate demand, which is both time-consuming and expensive, eroding any profit coming from the new revenue acquired. If this is a first step to a self-service approach to online advertising, Twitter will be able to alleviate sales force – and margin – pressure further, increasing profit potential and simplifying its sales and ad fulfillment operations.

Twitter is clearly dipping its toe in the self-service waters right now, a necessary first step to gauge interest before investing in the requisite technology. This is a smart move for a company that has explored several revenue streams this year and is clearly under pressure to find something that works consistently and substantially, especially given the investments made in the company and the purported $4 billion valuation.

This is a development to watch, as it could lead to a strong revenue opportunity in 2011.