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Twitter Buzz Is Worth $250,000 To Some, Harder To Quantify For Others

This story was written by Tameka Kee.
Companies can't run ads on Twitter (yet), but in five years, a prime spot on the micro-blogging service's "suggested users" list might be worth well over a million dollars. That's what Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis told TechCrunch, after offering Twitter's founders $250,000 to secure a place on the list for the next two years. The list is a new feature that's presented to people when they sign up for a Twitter account. Being on it can send some accounts upwards of 10,000 followers per day, a gift that Dave Winer agrees "might be worth a lot of money." But which kinds of companies stand to gain the most from those followers?

Not advertisers on the hunt for direct sales. According to Hitwise, less than one out of every 10 Twitter users heads to a retail or shopping site, so it's not yet an effective direct response channel. The same goes for business and finance-related sites. For those kinds of advertisers, search and email are still much better sources of traffic. What Twitter excels at is driving traffic to entertainment sites like YouTube, as one out of five of its users heads to an entertainment site after visiting Twitter.coma trend that media and entertainment companies might want to pay attention to. 

More after the jump.

NewTeeVee dubbed Twitter a great "personal broadcasting tool," noting that users often tweet links to video clips from around the web, and webisode producers get a surge in views as a result. More viewers means more ad revenue: by increased clicks, impressions, or getting brands to sign on for larger up-front sponsorships.

So, to bring it back to Calacanis' theory, if an indie content studio like EQAL or 60Frames was able to buy one of the top "suggested spots" (which Twitter's founders haven't offered up for sale) then the potential views could help the studio nab a six-figure ad deal. The only problem would be that it had to spend about the same amount to get the traffic in the first place.

By Tameka Kee