For a long time now, there have been all kinds of questions about how Twitter would end up making money by providing the micro-blogging service that it does. To date, it has survived by venture capital and it’s interesting to read the dollar figures reported. It gives you the scope of how big something like this is. I always thought that sustainability would come from being consumed by a service like Facebook or with the injection of advertising on pages. At this point, I appear to be wrong.
But, according to this report from Wired, money is being received by selling access to content to Google and Bing. This seems to be a natural since both services do scour news feeds to get the latest stories and, as has been noted on many occasions, Twitter can be a source for information event before it makes its way through the big news services. The classic case was the airplane landing in the river in New York. But, it certainly isn’t the only event where Twitter shines. I blogged about it back in January. As I noted at the close of the post, with all of the immediacy that Twitter provides, it doesn’t stand alone.
With the connection to Google and Bing, it doesn’t and the news from Twitter will integrate nicely into bigger related stories. What it does do, as Jeff Pulver notes frequently, supports the “State of Now”. It’s a natural marriage of information resources. At this point, the implementation is different for the two services and both seem to be very functional.
At Bing, a tag cloud advertises the hottest topics currently being discussed on Twitter. The movie Avatar, as well as the residue from Copenhagen or the upcoming holiday lead the pack. Scrolling down reveals some of the content for the popular topic, with options to get more information or to even re-tweet the message after logging into your Twitter account.
Google tries to integrate the results into the regular stream of search results. Options like “See more from Twitter” or “See all results from Twitter” expands the search and the content from the source. As an example, I asked Google to search for the hashtag from the recently concluded RCAC Symposium 2009 where we asked attendees to use the #RCAC09 hashtag. Google kicks over to a site:twitter.com search to retrieve the results. Of course, toggling the Advanced Search feature gives you additional functionality.
In a level of transparency, you can also search by a particular Twitter username. The results return the latest from that userid. Except for the quotation bubble, there’s nothing that really stands out from the regular results from a search.
I suspect that this level of transparency may cause some concern among some folks. But, a realization that this is a very public forum needs to be understood. Your messages are available to those who wish to check your Twitter account or to use Twitter search in the first place. Just like Twitter search, Google won’t report results from your account if you protect your updates. However, if someone has made reference to you and they don’t protect their updates, the content will still flow through in the results. Admit it now – you do want to Twitter-Google yourself right now.
But searching isn’t limited to just Google and Bing.
Yahoo! has yet another way of returning results. In this case, a search for my Twitter name reveals a new tab devoted to results specifically from Twitter as opposed to “Show All” so that you can break out the Twitter comments.
It’s an exciting time to see the integration of Twitter into results from these major search engines. We’re at the beginning; look for much greater integration as time goes by and better ideas for implementation come along.