While the new design of Twitter.com itself is big news, just as big is what it means for the Twitter ecosystem. I’m not talking about the third-party clients that have similar features to the ones Twitter just rolled out, but rather the partners that Twitter is (or is not) working with to bring more content directly into their environment.
Specifically, I’m talking about Twitter’s initial 16 partners: Dailybooth, DeviantArt, Etsy, Flickr, Justin.TV, Kickstarter, Kiva, Photozou, Plixi, Twitgoo, TwitPic, Twitvid, USTREAM, Vimeo, Yfrog, and YouTube. Each of these services now has content which can be viewed directly from Twitter.com — potentially taking pageviews away each of them. Why on Earth would they agree to that?
Some of those companies have already given their diplomatic answers — that this way will be better for the end users. That’s undoubtedly true, but many of those sites rely on the advertisements they show alongside the media they host. Such ads will not be shown on Twitter.com. So again, why agree to do this?
I spoke with Jason Goldman, Twitter’s Vice President of Product, yesterday after the announcement about this. His answer was fairly interesting. He notes that many of the major picture and video companies early-on started showing the value of having their media embedded elsewhere. YouTube and Flickr were two examples he cited.
“Those strategies increased the value of their brands,” Goldman said. And while obviously, YouTube and Flickr don’t need too much help expanding their brands any more, the smaller players could certainly benefit from this. If you see a friend sharing a picture on Twitter via Twitgoo or Dailybooth, you might decide to sign up for those services yourself so you can do the same, is the idea.
Goldman reiterated that Twitter wasn’t going to allow these partners to show their own ads next to the pictures in the new right-side pane on Twitter’s site, but thinks the pictures themselves are almost like a great branding ad for the services themselves.
He also noted that they’re not going to stop YouTube or the other video service from running pre-roll or post-roll video ads in their embeds — so the videos services will retain one way to monetize this embed view.
Obviously, Twitter is open to doing more of these deals with different content partners as well. The Kickstarter and Kiva deals are particularly interesting because they don’t involve embedded media, but rather embedded content. Expect to see a lot more of those. In fact, I’m going to not go out on a limb and guess that a lot of the location services will start showing content in the right-pane on Twitter.com shortly. Foursquare is already integrated in a similar way into Twitter’s iPhone app.
In their quest to make Twitter.com a more seamless experience for users, Twitter is also creating a new sort of mini platform. Previously, their platform was entirely off-site, with the right-side pane, it’s now on-site as well. I suspect we may see some interesting ideas spring up around this.