140 Characters - and Some Words from Sponsors

On Twitter, everyone has lots to say - but they only get 140 characters to say it.

So if this story was on Twitter it would end now, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

Twitter is a social networking site that lets users send and read little messages known as Tweets. Millions of people do it every day.

Yet, because the site does not charge and until now has not run ads, it's never made any money - something its founder Biz Stone is often teased about.

"I assume that the Biz in Biz Stone does not stand for business model," said TV host Steven Colbert. "Are you going to make money off of this?"

"We're going to become a strong, profitable Internet company," Colbert replied.

So today, Twitter announced they are now selling ad space, or what they call "promoted tweets."

Here's how it works: when Twitter users type in a topic they are interested in, such as "coffee," a company like Starbucks can by that search word and their ad will pop up on the top of the Twitter page.

"It wouldn't bother me, especially if they gave me a free coffee for clicking," said Kate Daniels, a Twitter user.

Tweeters to Twitter: Keep It Simple

Twitter's ad model is similar to how Google makes its money.

"It's clear that Twitter needed a business model, they needed some way to make money and this seems like a natural one," said Abbey Klaassen, the executive editor of Advertising Age.

The site also plans to target ads to what its users are tweeting about. So if you tweet about an airline ticket, an ad for Virgin America, one of Twitter's new sponsors, may show up on your page.

"If it doesn't reach the point of being annoying, I'll be OK," said Jim McCormick, a Twitter user.

Some analysts believe Twitter could pull in $100 million in ad revenue this year, proving social networking is not just a way to make friends, it also may be a way to make a lot of money.
  • Ben Tracy

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