A new way to monetize Twitter- Selling private tweets through TwitPub

April 16, 2009 by Lisa Oshima | Developers, Enterprise, Monetization, Review, Social Media, Uncategorized

Ahhh… It’s a new day, and there’s yet another 3rd party developer jumping on the Twitter train…

TwitPub is a 3rd party developer that is leveraging Twitter’s infrastructure to monetize tweets through subscriptions. TwitPub is run by AdExcel Online Networks Sdn. Bhd., which is based out of Malaysia. TwitPub operates a bit like a premium SMS subscription (though not on your mobile) – users pay to subscribe to the private tweets of content owners/ publishers.  The idea is that content publishers sell access to their private tweets, which can contain information about any number of topics (daily horoscope, finance alerts, music news, etc… anything – you get the idea). 

The price of a subscription tweet stream starts at $.99/month, which seems like too high of a price to pay, without knowing the Twitterer well and how many tweets/day or week you’ll get. But, I suppose if a big name journalist or company decides to use it, $.99 might be reasonable.  Without creating a service level agreement that requires Publishers to publish quality content at specific intervals, I don’t think many people will be willing to pay for tweets.

TwitPub shares revenue with Publishers, giving them “80% or more, depending on the volume of the subscriptions” and keeping 20% or less for “revenue sharing and operating expenses”.  TwitPub doesn’t specify how many subscriptions are needed before the revenue share percentage changes.

I didn’t find any content on TwitPub that I actually want to pay for…There aren’t any major publishers or Twiteratti using the service yet, and with all of the free content on the web, I can’t imagine wanting to pay for 140 characters of text when there are plenty of great tweets available for free.

The only way I can imagine that TwitPub will survive is if it gets a few big name Twitterers and publications on side.  I would be willing to pay for the tweets of well-known publications as part of my overall subscription (i.e. See the WSJ tweets when you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal), but that’s not currently on offer.

If a well known entity (Twitter) or a major media company were to buy TwitPub (or implement a similar idea), there could be revenue opportunity.  At the moment, I can’t imagine a major publisher agreeing to share 20% revenue with a Malaysia-based company they’ve never heard of.

If you’re curious about TwitPub, here’s a description of how it works:

  • For Publishers:
    • When a Publisher makes $25 or more, TwitPub will pay out via PayPal. After the Publisher earns $50 or more, TwitPub will pay via check.  Preferences are indicated in the TwitPub dashboard.
    • Set up a Twitter account (or use an existing account) and set it to “private.”
    • Open open a TwitPub account
    • TwitPub sends activation email. Validate your TwitPub account by clicking on the link inside the email.
    • Once logged into the TwitPub site, click on “sell” to set up your account and set a price for your tweet stream.
  • For End-users who want to discover and subscribe to content:
    • Open open a TwitPub account
    • TwitPub sends activation email. Validate your TwitPub account by clicking on the link inside the email.
    • Once logged into the TwitPub site, click on “buy” to find content to subscribe to.
    • When you find content to buy, you enter your Twitter account details and pay via World Pay (which is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which for those of you who are unfamiliar is a huge banking conglomerate based in the UK).
    • Note: It seems odd to me that TwitPub will pay developers via Paypal, but they won’t use it to collect payments from subscribers.  WorldPay is a legitimate online payment service, but it’s not well known in the US.
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