Dusty Reagan, who runs the Twitter app FriendOrFollow, recently launched a new Twitter ad network called FeaturedUsers. Before you moan and groan about how Twitter is becoming too commercialized, listen up: this ad network isn't about splicing ads into your Twitter stream. Instead, it takes a page from Twitter's own "Recommended Users" section which is shown to new users upon sign-up. The difference is that the FeaturedUsers ad network serves up recommendations across Twitter's ecosystem of affiliate applications, including of course FriendOrFollow, but also on nearly twenty other sites like Twitdom, TwtBase, FollowCost, DoesFollow, and more. And more apps are waiting to sign up because FeaturedUsers is actually helping Twitter app developers make money.
FeaturedUsers soft-launched into alpha back in February of this year after Dusty saw how TwitterCounter was featuring users on their site for the going rate of $100 per week. He was looking for a way to monetize the web traffic on his own application, FriendOrFollow, and Google AdSense was barely bringing anything more than a few dollars per month. That's when he got the idea for FeaturedUsers.
How it Works
With FeaturedUsers, any Twitter user can go to the site and sign up to purchase impressions across a network of eighteen different Twitter affiliate applications. You can see the complete list here. The cost to the user is $10 per 1000 impressions (CPM). Each impression is essentially just a banner add that displays the Twitter user's name, profile, and link to their Twitter account. After PayPal fees, which is how publishers pay, revenues are split 60/40 in favor of the publisher. So far, even with very little press, the site has been busy. They've yet to have a time when there weren't any sales. In fact, they currently have a padding of about 7 days out. As the padding increases, they add another publisher to the mix. Reagan tells us there's quite a waiting list for that already.
Another provision is especially designed to protect the publishers. If the clickthrough rate on the banners drops below 0.6%, FeaturedUsers stops charging for impressions until it increases again. According to Reagan, this should encourage the publishers to move the Twitter banner ad to a more prominent position on their site where the rate will be better.
What About Spammers?
Of course, these days, there is some concern that spammers and others up to no good could use the system to promote their own, terrible Twitter profiles. But, Reagan thinks the very fact that you have to pay for impressions will keep those sorts of users at bay for the most part. He also thinks that even if they were to get through, they wouldn't see much value for their dollars spent since visitors clicking through to their profiles probably wouldn't follow the spammer's account.
Still, if there's a certain Twitter profile that a publisher doesn't like for whatever reason - maybe it's spammy, maybe it's too risque, etc. - the publisher has the right to block it from showing on their page.
Coming Soon: Geo-targeting, Contextual Profiles, and More
In the next couple of weeks, FeaturedUsers will launch a geo-targeting feature that will show you profiles of Twitter users from your area when you visit the affiliate sites - a move that should definitely help to increase the clickthrough rate on the ads. Next month, they'll add another feature called "contextual profiles" which will match keywords from a Twitter user's profile to a tag cloud of words that represent the affiliate site. This process will be used to better match up Twitter users and the sites their banners are shown on.
The publishers dashboard page will soon be updated, too. Now it shows things like the domain clickthough rate, the amount of money paid and owed, and the total page impressions. After the update, publishers will have the ability to add new domains and blacklist certain IP addresses - like their own home or work IP - so those don't get counted as impressions.
When Twitter oAuth leaves beta, FeaturedUsers will then let Twitter users claim their account and turn on certain options like having the banner display your latest tweet, for example. Reagan found static profile banners performed better, but wants to at least provide this option for those who want it.
Get Some Free Impressions!
Want some free impressions on this new network? We have 4000 impressions to give away. The first eight commenters who leave their Twitter username below will receive 500 impressions each.