Update: TwittAd chief executive James Eliason responds to my post in the comments with some additional thoughts on the company’s potential.
Here’s another startup trying to make money from micro-messaging service Twitter — TwittAd, a marketplace where Twitter users can sell advertising on their profile pages. At first, it sounds like an decent idea, but TwittAd needs to answer a big question: Who the heck visits profile pages anyway?
Okay, so I don’t have any metrics to back this up, but I’m betting that Twitter profiles (which list of all of a user’s messages) are some of the least-seen parts of the site. It’s just easier to follow people’s “tweets” through the main Twitter page, and through the “replies” pages, where you can read messages that are directed at you specifially. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I see users’ profile pages exactly once — when I subscribe to follow their tweets. I may have hundreds of followers, but I doubt my profile gets more than a dozen views in a week, and it’s hard to imagine that kind of traffic is worth much to an advertiser.
Also, it’s a little strange to link the price I charge for ads to my number of followers. After all, the whole point of following someone is that you never need to view their profile pages again. (Other tech bloggers are also skeptical.)
Still, it’s early days for the company. At least the ads are cheap and easy to create. The site also makes it easy to see who’s selling ads for how much. Maybe Twitter profiles get a lot more views than I think. (If so, I’d better spruce mine up.) And maybe this is just TwittAd’s first step, to be followed by bringing ads to other parts of the service. But if there’s a lucrative way to make money from Twitter advertising, I’m betting Twitter will get there first.