Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Conan O’Brien Really, Really Wants Some Twitter Followers

I follow Conan O’Brien on Twitter. So do 1,677,799 other people.

But that’s not enough for O’Brien. Or, more likely, it’s not enough for Time Warner’s (TWX) TBS channel, which is paying big money to bring O’Brien back to TV next month. In any case, someone is paying Twitter* to make @TeamCoco a “Promoted Account”–one of the first that Twitter has rolled out today.

Here’s what that looks like (via my “New Twitter” homepage):

A little redundant, and I’m probably not going to follow two different Conan accounts. But whatever. It doesn’t have any material impact on the way I use Twitter, which remains both free and useful to me. (Except when it breaks, as it seems to have done just now.)

My hunch is that I’m going to feel the same way as Twitter starts to carve out increasing amounts of real estate for ads and other revenue-generating products on its platform. That’s what media companies do, after all.

And in fact, here’s another small ad move coming out of Twitter at the same time. It has moved up its “Promoted Trends” product from the bottom of its topics list to the top, where I’m more likely to see it.

Or at least it says it has: My Twitter Trends feature, which is set to “New York,” doesn’t show me any Promoted Trends at all. If and when they do show up, the fact that they’re up higher won’t make much difference to me, because I almost always ignore Trends in general.

And that’s the real risk for Twitter here–not that users will be turned off by ads, but that they’ll ignore them, just as they do throughout most of the Web. When’s the last time you clicked on, or even looked at, a Gmail ad from Google (GOOG)?

*It is possible that no one is actually paying Twitter to promote TeamCoco, and that the company is throwing it in as a promotional freebie, as it did in some cases when it rolled out “Promoted Tweets.”