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What We've Discovered About Twitter in Run-Up to Its IPO | Simon Dumenco - Advertising Age

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Twitter is scrambling to become better at media, not just meta-media

Media people like me are fond of Twitter because it helps drive traffic to our media; i.e., people find great stuff through Twitter, but oftentimes it's not reallyon Twitter -- you have to click away from Twitter to view it.

That's exactly why last Tuesday, Twitter, on its official blog, published a post titled "Picture this: More visual tweets," which read, in part, "Starting today, timelines on Twitter will be more visual and more engaging: Previews of Twitter photos and videos from Vine will be front and center in tweets. To see more of the photo or play the video, just tap."

As my colleague Cotton Delo reported the same day, the announcement had "big implications for marketers … who can now essentially publish large display ads and show them to users in their own streams." And, she added, "if the move makes Twitter ads more desirable, it will drive bidding prices up and yield more ad revenue for Twitter."

Or maybe the opposite will happen. Consumers will be annoyed by a stream filled with junk.

Twitter needs some new schtick, quick

Why do people who like Twitter use Twitter? Ask the average user, and they'll likely mention the obvious: to follow celebrities, to tweet about TV, to find out about breaking news and … what else is there? If you're allergic to Kim Kardashian et al., if you're not all that keen about fiddling with your mobile phone while watching "Duck Dynasty" and if you're not a news junkie … then why be on Twitter?

To circle back to my earlier point that Twitter needs to get better at media, not just meta-media, it's increasingly obvious that the service is gearing up to introduce some new value propositions in the form of Twitter-produced media (think of what YouTube has done with its channel partners). That will make it a destination in and of itself (I think the "Picture this: More visual tweets" announcement is just the tip of the iceberg), as opposed to just a pit stop (or a guide) on the way to other media destinations.

And I think some of that new drawing power might actually come through rich-media advertising -- the sort Cotton alluded to, and which has the potential to be especially relevant given Twitter's mobile-centric interface.

If a critical mass of people can be persuaded to start thinking that, say, "Twitter helps me save money when I go to the grocery store," that's a whole new audience -- and a whole new ballgame -- right there.

Yes, but that's a big if. I think that's a market Facebook and Google want so it won't be easy.

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