Why Magpie’s Advertising System Is Self-Diminishing

Testing a Twitter Advertising System
I tested out Magpie, an advertising system that creates tweets in my tweet stream, from third party advertisers then pays me.

Some have already blogged about their opposing thoughts on it, and some are publicaly open that they are now Magpies. For me, it was just a test that I’ve now ceased.

Part of my job as an analyst covering social media is to use the very tools in which I cover. I use this knowledge to write reports, help clients, and make suggestions to the vendors themselves. You can expect brands to ask me “how should we engage in Twitter” and I’ll point them to this very post.

There was quite the vitriolic reaction from some, others didn’t seem to mind, a few were acceptable of it. If there was anyone to test it, it makes sense for me, it’s part of my job, and I have a large enough follower base to average reactions.

I’m also going to measure the amount of folks that may have unsubscribed with TweepleTwak, hopefully they’ll realize it’s not permanent and return.

The Test
I setup the system a few days ago, and set it for every 10th tweet there would be an ad, the system is supposed to line up ads with content related to what I talk about. Either there was no brands related to what I talk about, or the system felt I talked about magpie enough, it tweeted this:

“#magpie startups give magpie a try! they’ve got a total reach of 500,000 followers. campaigns starting at EUR 10. http://rubyurl.com/k98e”

Immediately after, I let my followers know it was a test, and tweeted the following:

“That last tweet was my first test of Magpie, It was auto generated by them. I’m testing this as a social media analyst. What do you think? “


Here are the 48 reactions, which I’ve sorted by sentiment:
Responses came in over 60 minutes.

Successful or Accepted: 7 Responses

  • findchris: @jowyang Not so bad as long as the #magpie tag is used.
  • gahlord: Also, fwiw, I don’t care that much if @jowyang uses Magpie (I put up with a lot of noise for Guy, why not for Owyang?)
  • nateritter: @jowyang at least it was relevant. Probably first thing I’ve clicked on in your stream in a while actually. It interests me.
  • mediamanx: @jowyang the magpie ad seems relevant – though self promoting to magpie. will be interesteing to see what follows & how frequent they run
  • davidkspencer: @jowyang I wouldn’t mind it if the #magpie tag somehow stood out. It blends in, easy to miss. That’s an issue with app, not business model.
  • DavidBrim: @jowyang #magpie sounds cool, but I don’t think a CPM model will be as effective as a CPC or CPA model. http://tinyurl.com/6cvgzo
  • KevinUrie: @jowyang it will work for you, and you will not loose many followers. But for most it will be a death sentence. Saying test, ruins the test
  • Unsure, Neutral or Conditional: 14 Responses

  • ewantoo: @jowyang I think it will all depend on the adverts carried, an ad to buy herbal viagra is going to get you or anyone else blocked
  • jasonlog: @jowyang should think of twit copywriting
  • gahlord: @jowyang Will you have to give a disclaimer about potential profit motives when writing about Magpie?
  • john_mcgann: @ jowyang If early adopters are important to the advertiser then advertwitting could actually *damage* a brand… IMHO
  • jusx: @jowyang i wouldn’t mind magpie if it labels it’s tweets with “SPONSOR” or “ADVERTISEMENT”. Yes in caps. It’s a bit deceiving IMHO.
  • fritzpw: @jowyang I got a message advertising magpie. Was that the intent?
  • sawinkler: @jakemarsh @jowyang just had the same exact tweets. did I just see magpie in action?
  • JoeSeale: @jowyang IMHO magpie gives a certain opaqueness to the term transparency. Where’s the disclaimer that you didn’t *actually* post that info?
  • A_F: @jowyang they need to disclose in the tweet that it is a “sponsored” tweet, else = FAIL
  • JoeSeale: @jowyang I suppose I missed the #magpie. Does that count as a disclaimer?
  • techpr: @jowyang auto-generated by magpie (not clear) and they refer to themselves in third person. lame. twitter is about transparency, no?
  • NoOneYouKnow: @jowyang Magpie site http://be-a-magpie.com/ is a little confusing – is it pay for tweet? ad network?
  • fbpda: @jowyang I don’t think that #magpie is going to annoy me but if it bothers one of my followers then it’s a no-go for me.
  • jasona: @jowyang It was a big, blatant billboard on the side of a nice, quite, untouched country road.

  • Negative Reaction: 20 Responses

  • GrantGriffiths: @jowyang What do I think. I think #Mappie is a bunch of BS that twitter doesn’t need.
  • WBkilburn: @jowyang To me, it diminishes your credibility. Advert is in your voice – on blog ads, there’s a distinction between autor and advertiser.
  • bloodandmilk: @jowyang It made me wonder why you were running an ad, and I doubted your judgement a little.
  • laser: @jowyang I wish that the magpie tweets came across as ads rather than personal announcements. Seems kind of misleading.
  • t_de_baillon: @jowyang Magpie means more noise for less signal. I never thought diluting a message was a good marketing strategy
  • WellTold: @jowyang re magpie, I’d rather eat my foot than use that. Ads on twitter – leave me alione!!!!!
  • kerry_anne: @jowyang I blogged my reasons for disliking #magpie a few weeks ago: http://is.gd/6hD8 (expand)
  • durjoy: @jowyang I think it’s noise pollution
  • jonesabi: @jowyang The trust I feel when I think of you plummeted.
  • gilliatt: @jowyang I think be-a-magpie.com is making http://magpie.net glad they rebranded earlier. Twitter spam will not make friends.
  • thehartworker: @jowyang as much as I know I cannot influence at all what magpie twitters in my name – therefore: no way I will use it
  • kellytirman: @jowyang I am not feeling it. There must be a better solution to monetize Twitter, if at all.
  • PatrickCourtney: @jowyang there’s no real barrier between ad and content. To me it weakens credibility – like pay per post for blogs.
  • dtd: @jowyang I think no. The Magpie “message” seems to be coming directly from you.
  • seanodotcom: @jowyang spammy.
  • zolierdos: @jowyang Jeremiah, you gotta be kidding, this is spam
  • theregoesdave: @jowyang i think magpie is paying for your credibility, but you don’t get it back when they’re done #magpie
  • brentnau: @jowyang I really believe that if the tweets do not pass the sniff test followers wiil revolt. Escpecially if used too often.
  • AndySwan: @jowyang please don’t. #magpie is NO DIFFERENT than accepting $$ to send your friends spam emails or intterupt their real convos with pitch
  • Benderelly: @jowyang I think you’re cashing in – I ain’t clicking on it.

  • Unfollow: The worst reaction: 7 Responses

  • quietrevolution: @jowyang I like folks promoting themselves/their biz etc. I would delete you from my followers & anyone else that uses it. No value to me.
  • ericagee: @jowyang Yeah, I hatethe idea of Magpie and agree with Joe – I’d unfollow anyone who started using it regularly.
  • ninjarunner: @jowyang i have told myself that i will unfollow people who use #magpie. Love your tweets, at a cross-roads if you use it…
  • adarowski: @jowyang I can’t really think of any cases where magpie ≠ unfollow.
  • JoeCascio: @jowyang Dude, you have to be kidding. Anybody that spams me thru Magpie gets an automatic un-follow. 4reelz.
  • wnourse: @jowyang Don’t like it – I may stop following if people start using it
  • mark2100: @jowyang @JessicaKnows I’m unfollowing you because of Magpie, it’s nothing personal but tweeter users need to take a stand against spam.
  • Findings
    Positive Reactions 7, or 14%
    Unsure Reactions 14, or 29%
    Negative Reactions: 20, or 41%
    Unfollow (very negative) 7, or 14%

    As you can see, the majority of responses were negative (20), some downright annoyed or angry and ready to leave (7), that means that 56% of respondents had negative reactions. Many were confused (14), or had conditions on why it could be successful, and finally a few were actually ok with it (7) a mere 14%. Given the weight of the majority of negative responses, this system is not ready.


    Magpie not ready –and will self implode
    In the end, Magpie (or any Twitter advertising system) is going to need some fixes to be successful. The ads need to be clearly identified as ads, the content relevant enough so followers would accept them, and a disclosure made by the tweeter to their followers what’s being done. Perhaps some alternative marketing methods would be developing ads when using the search tools, or on background screens (this has already happened).

    Brands often don’t know how to engage in conversational marketing, we’ve seen quite a few brands create Twitter accounts, but are unsure what to do, some spit out press releases and links to blog posts alone, and others create personas like Popeye’s chicken that some are unsure how to react to.

    Yet advertising in social media is already well accepted
    One thing is for sure, just as we saw with the once “pure” blogs, marketers follow crowds, in fact, I remember in 2005 many bloggers would revolt against blogs having ads, my recent count showed that there are 4 on scobleizer, 12 on RWW, 14 on Techcrunch, and 21 ads on Mashable. (note, sometimes its hard to tell what’s an ad and what’s not). In fact, there are 1.5 million subscribers to Techcrunch’s RSS feed, which contains ads instream at the bottom of each post –ads are an acceptable part of opt-in content.

    There’s also Glam Media, Federated Media, Google Ad sense and others, in fact, one of my favorite podcasts, For Immediate Release is sponsored by Ragan communications and other vendors, and I have no problem with this as the signal is high, and the ads are related to my interests.

    Risks, Money, and Experiments
    Yes, I took a risk losing some followers by doing this test, yet I’ve since stop the magpie service. Now that the test is over, and will be meeting with the Magpie team for a phone briefing if we can coordinate since the team is in Germany.

    What about the money? It calculates the number of followers I have, (plus some other factors I believe) and Magpie let me know I earned a few euros, €32.87 which equates $41.39. I won’t be collecting the money, since they only cash out for 50 euros, and if they mail me a check, I’ll donate it to the Red Cross, my favorite charity.

    Love to hear your reactions to this experiment.

    Update: Just like Tivo, Ad blocking software and email spam filters appeared as a response to ads, a Magpie Blocking script has appeared which auto filters all messages that contain those messages in them.

    76 Replies to “Why Magpie’s Advertising System Is Self-Diminishing”

    1. I un-follow already people who broadcast too much about themselves. I feel the same way about Magpie.
      I really would like to see Twitter community resist the tempation to directly monetize their feeds. Leave that for your businesses, blogs, and etc.

      Just my 2cents.

    2. i was wondering the same thing, but i knew it was a test of some sort. Does this company also send Direct Messages? I have been receiving spammy related messaged from people that I follow.

    3. Thinking about your question, I remembered an example of Twitter advertising that I *don’t* mind: the ads that show up in-stream in the free version of Twitterific. They’re obvious, and they’re part of a deal I accepted when I started using free software. By the same logic (and assuming they’re easily identifiable), I would probably be fine with in-stream ads from Twitter itself.

      But there’s a limit to how many ad networks can monetize Twitter, and I think the companies that try need to provide end-user value (as Twitter and client software clearly do) along with their ads. Imagine a tweetstream with ads from (1) Twitter, (2) the user’s client software, and (3) Magspam. Quoting the evil magician from Frosty the Snowman, “busy, busy, busy!”

    4. Skimming the negative responses, they sound just like how people reacted to advertising on blogs five years ago. People got over that, seemingly. I’m not particularly keen on ads in Twitter streams, but it was (and probably is) inevitable.

      I assume somebody will soon make a Greasemonkey extension or Twitter desktop app that filters out all of the ads.

    5. Since twitter was created, people have seen it as sort of a lifestream – it’s real-time, off-the-cuff, and (most importantly) innocent of spam/forced advertising (if a person creates an account for the SOLE purpose of spamming, no one will follow them). It’s sort of a perfect model for conversation without spam.

      And I think the users like it this way. Knowing that someone has invaded their chamber with ads they don’t want confuses them and (in some cases) infuriates them. Tweets that are from users are (mostly) free of bias, and that’s why Twitter is catching on so much. Knowing that at any point in time you could be bombarded with an ad from someone whom you (unconsciously) trusted to be free of such bias, well, its like a slap in the face.

      I did some research on my end on Magpie as well – and those “contextual” ads seem to be less so than they claimed.

      http://www.studionashvegas.com/2008/11/18/magpie-spam-or-just-another-ad-network/

      Well researched, Jeremiah.

    6. as a “6” in your scale of purists versus corporatist — i understand that there has to be a way to measure the effectiveness of using Twitter (from a corporate perspective); and serving ads is probably not the right way to do it.

    7. My main concern about Magpie is that it puts words in my mouth. Twitting is more personal then a banner. I would hate that Magpie would twitt an ad I don’t like using my name. My second objection, you already mentioned, is that the ads must be very clearly identified. See the Google approach – they don’t mix search results and ads. Same here – don’t add noise were I don’t want it.

    8. Again, interruptive advertising. I may want to know about your product but please let me select or unselect it.

      There should be a magpie feature in twitter where I can select if I want certain magpie categories. Tech, web, social media, etc…

      It’s hard enough to read through the silly useless thoughts of people I follow to get to the relevant stuff. Now I’ve got to deal with advertising as well. Ugh. I seriously think I would stop using Twitter.

    9. I’m by no means against the idea of advertising invading this medium…afterall, it’s a business, not a charity, and if you want to use it without paying, you need to make some compromises.

      However, I see the main difference between magpie and ads on blogs (or other mediums) is the controlled space limit. When i read a blog, or a search result, or my gmail, there are ads in specific places. I wouldn’t read a blog that had a line of content followed by a line of ad-text. And I would switch search engines if google started displaying results as Organic-Paid-Organic-Paid.

      Also, I may see 20 ads in a day on blogs i read, but if i follow 500 people signed up for magpie who each send 20 tweets in a day, that’s 1,000 spam tweets i’m going to be overwhelmed with everyday (based on the 1/10 ratio you talked about here).

    10. A business should never launch before it’s ready for prime time. Magpie’s limitations are that it is generally random ads inserted. People WANT to be advertised to- if it’s relevant to them. We all want to find new interesting things that will enrich our lives and will gladly pay for them to do so. We all also get frustrated when something is taking up our precious time that is targeted at us and not TO us.

      Whenever someone uses Magpie it diminishes their credibility and weakens the value of their word with me. Judging by such a varied response to it I’d say that Magpie is not ready for prime time. Their algorithm needs to be tweaked in order to have more relevancy to viewers.

      Heed this lesson from Magpie’s situation: ALWAYS be relevant to those who you speak to. Tailor your responses to your audience or you risk losing them. This doesn’t mean to completely change what youre saying, just how youre saying it to whom youre saying it to.

      @damienbasile

    11. I think the fact that the same exact message was repeated by multiple users was really disruptive. Only 3 of the 200 or so people I follow sent it out, and it caught my attention as being very inorganic. It was like your twitter accounts all got brand-jacked for a second.

      For some reason, when I’m using twitterific, I don’t mind the ads they intersperse within my stream. But that’s probably because they are clearly identified as ads, and they are not presented as the words of the people I follow.

      Anyway, thanks for doing the research and presenting your findings.

    12. Apparently this test was influential:

      @shoestring: @jowyang Thanks for testing out Magpie for the rest of us. We were on the fence but were skewing against it and you reinforced our decision

    13. Interesting. Admittedly, I wasn’t paying attention during your test, and my only background and experience with Magpie in Twitter is what I have read right here.

      I don’t disagree with a lot of the points you and others have made about this service in particular and this approach in general.

      However, on some levels — again without experiencing it directly yet — it strikes me as similar to ppropriately spaced (a key element) advertising on TV or in a magazine. If the ads are spaced between every 10 or more tweets, if they make some attempt at being relevant to the subject matter, and if they are identified as ads, then that seems to fit models that have been around for quite some time.

      Of course, individuals have their own reactions. I haven’t stopped watching “30 Rock” because there are ads every few minutes. I still read the compelling articles in my Wired magazine even though they are often interrupted by ads (if not even “special advertising sections”).

      Jeremiah, I get value from the insights, news, and links in your Twitter stream. It would take more than a few well-spaced ads to get me to unfollow you. To me spam (as some of the more negative reactions called it) in a Twitter stream is an entire stream of unvaluable content, only aimed at promotion and purely commercial objectives.

      But I’ll say it again: I completely agree this needs more thought and Magpie in particular may need plenty of refinement.

      As always, interesing, open conversation.

    14. What an interesting experiment. I would have unfollowed you as well if I had seen your magpie tweet. Well I would have looked into it first because I think you send out some good stuff but if you would have kept it up I would have unfollowed you. I feel like magpie would have seriously adulterated what twitter is all about and would have made for way to much traffic. I really don’t want to sift through that junk. Thanks for the test. Magpie certainly has an interesting idea though.

    15. Hey Jeremiah,
      Nice analysis on magpie. I must say though that the ads that were being sent felt like mudpie to me…yuk! completely not targeted, not really relevant, and VERY spammy.

      Now on the purist – come on, no company can survive without any revenue streams – advertising, sponsorships, content partnerships are crucial – so I give magpie credit for trying something (and you for trying them out)

      Here are a few ideas how to make it more interesting for followers of “magpiers”, twitter and advertisers:
      – No offense, but having you make money doesn’t seem to make sense since it is compensating you to tweet (imho; dangerous) – the advertising revenue should go to twitter & partners (to support their growth) not the twitterer
      – Provide twitterer “easy to use” announcements from Twitter themselves or partners so that the idea of ads/revenue streams might be tested/introduced such as “as you know twitter needs money, we are testing revenue models, bear with us”
      – Every 10-20-30 (not sure the right number) updates – have a tweet that allows followers to rate (partnering with Grader or Twinfluence) who they are following on a “magpie or other” site where ads might be displayed – this would help the “twitterer” to know where they stand, allow followers to give feedback – yet get advertisers in front of both
      – As you suggested have a way to have “this msg is sponsored by” however the advertiser would require to have a twitter account – ensuring that followers have a way to “see/interact” with the advertisers through twitter
      – Twitter could start asking twitterers to pick what category of products/service THEY are interested in (rather than the keyword based ad serving model) – then work with magpie/partners to find appropriate advertisers and serve ads (in an elegant way) to Twitterers & potentially followers (although I am on the fence there).
      – Have magpie/Twitter help advertisers create “how to, interesting articles, real data, articles” that can then be served as content – rather than ads

      Hope this helps get the juices flowing…;-)

    16. I was the guy who said I wouldn’t mind too much if it stood out, so I knew it was an ad. What I really mean by this is that I don’t like the idea that it’s putting their words in your mouth.

      This is the reason I am so picky about Facebook applications. I hate the idea that some application posts something with my name behind it, even if it’s innocuous.

    17. This isn’t like ads on blogs at all and that contention misses the difference between Twitter and blogs.

      Tweets purport to be the thoughts of the Twitterer. People follow because they want to hear those thoughts. There’s no sidebar, no header, just the content. If this is analogous to anything in the blog world, it’s like Payperpost and other schemes where the blogger sold their actual content for money. It has the same downsides as those schemes too – now we need to ask ourselves if the thought we’re seeing is REALLY from the person we’re following or some bot trying to sell us something.

      This highlights the second issue with ads in a tweetstream – if the ad network follows the magpie example and puts in a unique hashtag, all they do is make it easy for the more sophisticated user to filters their ads. If they fail to put in a hashtag it increases the deceptiveness of the ad.

      There’s nothing wrong with using SM tools to market, but companies need to learn to use each tool as it’s meant to be used and not try to take a one size fits all approach. Ads work fine on blogs because of their page orientation. Same for Facebool. They’re OK in RSS feeds because a feed allows clean separation of content and ad. But in a micromessaging tool like Twitter, it may be far better to actually create an account and try to get people to follow it, then put out tweets that are of high interest to those people. I don’t mean a corporate account, but something very specific to a product line or even a product.

      While not a commercial venture, look at the success of the MarsPhoenix lander. Almost 40,000 followers plus tons of press. People followed that because it was a specific story. Sure the mainstream coverage helped a ton… but a company could bootstrap followers by putting a twitter ID in the regular ads they do for each productline.

      Bottom line? Magpie is the wrong model for Twitter and like services. Think about why your customers and people who might be your customers would use Twitter, then reach out in a manner that flows with that rather than against it.

    18. to Jim Huff: but TV ads are controlled. there can only be 9 minutes of them in a 30 minute show. And since it’s not based on how tweets you read, but how many your followers send and when they send them, you won’t necessarily get that perfectly spaced “now it’s time for commercials” interruption that you get with TV. In theory, you could get 100 tweets in a row that are ads.

      You may read Wired now, but would you read it if the amount of ads wasn’t controlled and writers were paid based on how many words they could write? You’d end up with a 10,000 page anthology of useless information delivered to your door every month 😉

    19. As usual, you managed the definitive analysis of it. I wish I could say I was surprised by the outcome but I’m not.

      Twitter will be monetized – and apparently by 3rd parties long before the Twitter folks figure out their own plan.

      I have absolutely no objection to that… it’s inevitable and surprising that it took this long. But there are right ways to approach a community and a right way to market to a target audience.
      This wasn’t it.

      (just an editorial note, in your results square, you have the numbers reversed for Unsure Reactions
      & Negative Reactions – only place I see it)

    20. I was an unfollow vote and the shortest way I can sum up my view is that Magpie is the lazy man’s means of using Twitter [or any similar service].

      Also backing my vote on the service is that I am turned off by people trying to monetize every aspect of their online use they can.

      Plenty of brands promote themselves directly on twitter and I follow a good number, and that’s not including the freelancers, company employees and others that promote their businesses from time to time [such as I do]. (I also have two business accounts for two businesses I am part of – one is an open/closed sign essentially, the other general updates+news).

      The thing I love about Twitter and SM at large, is the opportunity for direct connections with an amazing assortment of people – such as yourself – and many others from around the world that I would never have access to if the net did not exist.

      To me, Magpie attempts to hijack those relationships for others too lazy to take the time to develop them on their own. And on that point I do not see the end benefit to advertisers.

    21. To Tom Cummings: Yes, two very good responses to my quick thoughts. My comparison was far from perfect, and I certainly don’t mean to defend an approach or a specific service that I haven’t fully experienced. Just trying to explain why my immediate reaction was not as strongly negative. Magpie may not figure it out, but someone will — for better or worse.

    22. Like I said in my tweet, as long as the hashtag #magpie is shown, this isn’t so bad.

      What this makes me think is that twitter (or 3rd party) needs to create a new interface for custom searches, filters, etc. Filtering #magpie would be obvious 🙂

      -Chris

    23. I think Twitter would do well to look at how Google search did ads successfully — by placing paid content in a clear, set-aside area, and making it intelligently reflective of the user’s content (i.e., search terms).

      The paid listings I see next to my “regular” search results are sometimes useful, sometimes not, but never intrusive or interruptive.

      Most importantly, it never feels *deceitful* when I see those ads and recognize that they are paid content. When an ad gets placed into a person’s twitter stream, it is wrongly implying that those words are yours — I don’t care if there is a hashtag preceding it, the norm for hashtags is still that YOU typed that hashtag in, and the words that follow it are your words.

      Placing the paid content in your “mouth” (in Twitter terms) comes off a creepy ventriloquist trick at best. It looks like you’ve been hacked, even if it’s a hack that you opted in to.

    24. What a lot of people seem to be missing ( Tom Cummings November 21st, 2008 11:18 am … afterall, it’s a business, not a charity, and if you want to use it without paying, you need to make some compromises.) is that magpie is NOT monetizing Twitter. Any money goes to Magpie and, potentially, the user whose stream magpie is riding.

      So I use Twitter for free and magpie makes money off of that. Bad idea. I’d be happy to pay for _Twitter_. I am unwilling to pay for magpie. I am also unwilling to support _your_ use of Twitter with my use of Twitter.

    25. A second point people seem to forget is that many people read Twitter via SMS. And people pay to receive SMS messages.

      So, with magpie, I would pay my carrier to deliver an ad to my phone so that magpie can get money??? No way. I’d drop you like a hot potato.

    26. I have hated this idea from the very beginning, earning money by flooding the twitter stream of my followers is something I wouldn’t do. And I would also like the people that I follow to extend the same courtesy.

      As of now, not many people I follow uses magpie. I can tolerate a few ads here and there but if these ads gets too frequent, I won’t think twice before un-following those who uses magpie.

    27. I completely agree with quietrevolution. Companies that use #magpie are too lazy to engage the Twitter audience and build a relationship with them. Instead they’d rather hit us over the head with irrelevant ads. Not good.

      By its very nature Twitter forces us ALL to have conversations with one another and magpie breaks meaningful conversations. Companies would be better served hiring a social media expert to have them navigate the best ways to use Twitter as opposed to tarnishing their rep with twit stream ads most people reject.

      There is already a company who I once had respect for whose service I’ll never use because they advertised through magpie. They should have know better particularly since they are in the tech sector.

    28. I did not sign up for Magpie, but it seems like it would be possible for magpie to tweet for your competitors. If so, I’d say that be a big oops. Imagine tweeting, “Go read CompetitorBlog, it’s way better than mine.” 🙂

    29. I was going to write (and still may) my own blog post about Magpie, but you summed it up pretty well. At the end of the day, social media needs to be SOCIAL. And there is nothing social about running into the party and blasting out an infomercial. And that’s pretty much what Magpie is trying to monetize. It will reduce credibility of the people who use it, IMO.

    30. Vicki: I didn’t miss that part, and I don’t think many other people did either. I get how it works, I just said i wasn’t opposed to the “idea of advertising invading this medium”. You’re post is right though….one of the main things I don’t get is, if Magpie is successful, why wouldn’t Twitter just block them from using it and use the same idea themselves?

    31. Jeremiah:

      I’ve been thinking for a while that we’ll eventually see “ad tweets” in our stream. And if it doesn’t happen too much (1 every 25 or 50 posts?), I think it’s something I’d be willing to put up with.

      But here’s the key for me: I don’t want to see those ad tweets coming from *you*. If they’re part of your stream, I’d unsubscribe. If it’s a Twitter Central operation, on the other hand — like Tom Cummings is suggesting — that’s probably fine with me. Ads could be contextually relevant based on the content I’m seeing from my followers.

      Thanks for writing about your experiment.

      Bryan Person | @BryanPerson
      LiveWorld

    32. It’s probably not a good idea. It doesn’t seem like this system is to intrusive but it will only lead to more and more of this stuff. If everyone on twitter was using a system like this it would become really annoying.

    33. Dear Jeremiah,

      thank you for test-driving Magpie and for sharing your insights and your follower’s reactions. This is the way, a young company like us can learn.

      We’re following the discussions closely and we’ve also received a lot of direct feedback. While we acknowledge that some people are entirely against ads, we try to listen what other folks tell us who are not totally against it but think that we can improve in some ways. We are constantly transforming the feedback into product improvements. Starting today, you can officially:

      – Approve the ads before they get aired in your timeline. We have spent a lot of time designing our matching algorithms, but as signups from twitterers a coming in lot faster than new campaigns from advertisers, it’s sometimes hard to assign ads to tweeps automatically. Plus, a lot of people approached us requesting exactly the pre-approval feature. We’re now featuring this kind of functionality. We started by making it an opt-in feature to see how people like it and think about making it the standard directly after signup.

      – Customize the disclaimer. Until now, we had the #magpie hashtag at the beginning of every magpie-tweet that served both as a disclaimer for the twitterer and as a reference to who that ad company is that enables this. A lot of people, including you Jeremiah, thought this wasn’t enough as we understood it. With the latest change to Magpie, tweeps can use their own 9-char disclaimer. You can make it “Sponsored”, “#ad” or anything you like. Conversely, we’ve also heard a lot of people who did not like the disclaimer at all. People told us that — in combination with pre-approval — they did not want to use a disclaimer to make magpie-tweets look like genuine tweeps. We’re also enabling this from now on as we believe that tweeps will use this wisely.

      – Set the tweet/ad-ratio to a much higher level, meaning you can have a lot more tweets posted before you get a magpie-tweet. There are some tweeps out there who earn more than €50 (~ $63) with one single tweet. They would be happy to have magpie-tweets come in less often and still earn quite some money.

      We hope that all three groups of users, twitterers, their followers, and advertisers will like the improvements. But, of course, we’re not stopping here. We will continue to stay in the conversation, focusing more on the listening part though, to learn and to evolve.

      That said, I’d like to thank you again for your input. Please keep the comments coming, we are taking them very seriously. In the end of the day, we believe, there is a way for Twitter users to monetize their timelines. They are working just as hard as bloggers do to break stories, keep us in the loop or just make us smile. Bloggers can put up ads, we think, we should allow twitterers to do the same.

      Thanks again, kind regards,

      Jan
      CEO Magpie & Friends Ltd.

    34. Jan,
      Now that Twitter have stopped talking to Facebook I hope they have time to talk to you?

      Echoing some comments above, an adstream that was *from Twitter*, using the algorithims you are refining, could probably help both your futures.

      BTW we believe that tweeps will use this wisely….ich glaube es nicht…

      John

    35. Surely allowing Twitterer to put up Tweets that are ad’s without any disclaimer would be dishonest and even against the law in some legislatures?

      If I subscribe to a Twitter stream I expect the tweets to come from that person. If they could be coming from an advertiser via magpie it will mean Twitters integrity will be diminished.

      For everyone it seems imperative that ad’s be clearly marked as such.

      All the best Dave

    36. Jan – allowing tweets to have no disclaimer at all is enabling spam. I fundamentally disagree with your model since you’re literally putting words in someone’s mouth but beyond that I want ads clearly identified. In NO OTHER medium do we see ads completely imitating the main content. Ads are always identified. The only reason not to tag an ad is deception. Thanks for enabling that.

    37. Well finding out from Jan’s comment here that they will be enabling people to ‘customize’ so that others don’t know they’re spamming me with pay-per-tweets rather than actually being honest with me will definitely change the way I use twitter.
      So much for the power of twitter as actual social media where companies can engage in actual interaction with their customers.

      I guess I’ll be having to scan for phrase similarities to weed out the “responsible” people who decide to sell their followers out.

    38. Completely agree with Lucretia (#50). There’s something called business ethics that any right-thinking company should adhere to. By not making the Magpie ads visible (when you allow the disclaimer to be taken away altogether) you’re basically creating false advertising.

      That seems incredibly bad business to me, and the work of a company that may say they’re trying to improve but are, in essence, just out to make whatever they can before being found out.

    39. Twitter will have to find a way to monetize, but I would prefer the Adwords model – a sidebar clearly marked “Advertisement”.

    40. Like you pointed out, “the ads need to be clearly identified as ads” which can be difficult on a system where you are limited by characters. In addition, Magpie now allows users to self select what this identification looks like, so it will soon be even more difficult to filter out what’s a Magpie ad and what is not.

      Rather than the approach that Magpie has taken, I would much rather see Twitter users monetize their Twitter account (if they decide to do so at all) through means that don’t interrupt the flow of the rest of their conversation, such as background ads on their Twitter profile page.

      The main problem that I have with Magpie is that it disrupts the normal flow of conversation. Imagine the Magpie process in other scenarios: You’re walking around with a few friends, and one out of every ten sentences out of everyone’s mouths is ‘sponsored’. Or what about if one out of every ten emails that you received from a friend was ‘sponsored’? Sure, they’d make a few dollars from the advertiser, and you could ignore the ads if you wanted to, but it just devalues the overall medium of the conversation, and adds another layer of spam into our already cluttered lives.

      There are also plenty of other reasons why I don’t think Magpie is a sustainable model (they make money off of someone else’s network, technology, servers, development and support time, etc., they are yet to provide the relevant links that they’ve promised, they pay in pounds, they bribe users with highly speculative estimations of potential profit, they don’t take into account the value of an account after people unfollow from the flood of Magpie ads, and on an on…) but I just ended up putting everything into one post as a summary of my thoughts and feelings: http://thefutureofads.com/2008/11/03/magpie-tries-to-make-twitter-an-ad-network-fails/

      Thankfully, it looks like the community has come together in support of keeping Twitter pure, and our gatekeeper role has kept the flood of spammers and poorly targeted advertisers at bay for now.

    41. I’m not sure about your assessment. Maybe if you had tested it with other Twitter accounts.

      There are many types of people and website/bots using Twitter for various things. Say a person who’s using Twitter to update followers on football memorabilia he gets in his store or whatever and wants to make a few extra dollars using #magpie to promote relevant items. Would that have a different result. I think so.

    42. Jeremiah, thank you for the test, reactions are all legitimated, but we must also understand that this service (twitter) is free and also think that we are not under the obligation to click on the ‘ad’ by magpie.
      Dont be surprise if twitter starts to allow more advertising methods in the site.
      Remember we are all looking for money, magpie and their users do.
      Cheers

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    44. i was wondering the same thing, but i knew it was a test of some sort. Does this company also send Direct Messages? I have been receiving spammy related messaged from people that I follow.

    45. The system continues to evolve this this was first introduced. Many new players on the scene yet this early player really got the ball rolling.

    46. Wow, looks like I'll be finding other ways to make money online than trying to advertise in my tweets. I feel it is obviously a self destructive path to choose to advertise in your tweets (with magpie) with such solid results from your studies Jeremiah Owyang. Thanks for providing this research before I bombed my timeline and follower count. I too asked my followers how they felt if I were to start advertising in my tweet stream. I mostly received negative feedback and some long term twitter friends said they wouldn't even think twice about unfollowing me. If everyone on Twitter was advertising in their tweet stream and we were all making a decent living and happy about it, that would be different. I don't want to be the only one advertising, I'll look like a goof.

    47. This reaction fits with my intuition.  I think twitter is a medium where people react very strongly to the degree to which they perceive a twitter account as sincerely engaging in conversation.

      My personal reaction would probably be to unfollow unless I had a strongly compelling reason to want to follow the person (i.e. if they were an influential contact of mine who was following me back, and following very few other people, or if I thought their other tweets were top-notch in quality and relevance to me).

      It’s a strong enough reaction that I’d even be worried about my own reputation…that someone might be bothered enough by it that they’d be upset at me if they found out that account through looking at who I followed.

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