What’s a Tweet Worth? – and other musings

I noticed Businessweek pulled a story it published yesterday on “What a Tweet is Worth” but not before  MediaPost published a commentary on it.

BusinessWeek does a little arithmetic and deduces that Google and Microsoft are paying Twitter roughly 3¢ for every 1,000 tweets they crawl — “a pittance in the world of online advertising.” Indeed, top media sites often get $10 or $20 per thousand page views, while remnant inventory — leftover Web pages that get sold through ad networks — goes for 50¢ to $1 per thousand.

The independent deals, reached late last year between Twitter and the search engines, were together worth $25 million, yet put “almost no value” on Twitter’s data, according to Donnovan Andrews, vice-president of strategic development for the digital marketing agency Tribal Fusion. As BusinessWeek points out, no one has figured out how to make real money off of tweets yet, but Google and Microsoft are actually betting on all that changing.

Personally, I don’t know why Google or Microsoft should pay Twitter anything beyond a handling fee for securing Twitter data (which just started showing up in Google Search results last month) as clicking on a Twitter link in Google … will send you back to Twitter … right?  Clearly this is an area that is rapidly evolving and we’ll see more and more aggregation on the Search Engine side and who knows, maybe the aggregation will also take place in Facebook and Twitter, etc.

But, as Matt Cutts pointed out (yesterday) in a short note about Real Time Search, Google was only a couple of minutes delayed in reporting yesterday’s earthquake in the Bay Area, but people are already complaining it’s not fast enough (with screen shots and all)

Overall, realtime search triggered in under two minutes from the earthquake happening and within a minute of the first tweets appearing. The rough timeline (in Pacific time) is

~10:10 – An earthquake happened. (The USGS says the earthquake happened at 10:09:35 a.m.)
10:11 – The USGS government web site started to track the earthquake, with a “?” magnitude.
10:12 – Google’s realtime onebox triggers.
10:13 – USGS web site marked the magnitude as 4.1.
10:20 – USGS site updates their feed.
~10:25 – Google’s earthquake onebox gets updated earthquake info

It took 13 minutes before Google’s real-time search picked up the earthquake that happened near San Jose.

We can muse, what is a “tweet” worth now?

Maybe a lot – since Google is reporting news – faster than newspapers could and people want that information faster (which sorta suggests that Google might end up buying some Newspapers like the New York Times, since it’s already going in that direction – reporting news, faster and faster.  It’s also been suggested that Google could actually host the IT  infrastructure of newspapers – letting them focus on news reporting and analysis instead of technology, which Newspapers, like the Times, don’t usually do that well at, by people such as Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine, not that long ago).

At any rate, from that standpoint, “if ” Google is paying 3 cents per thousand tweets it uses, that’s cheap.

I think what changes is context – before, say, a couple of years ago, people looked to search engines as a free and paid listings service – but now they are becoming destinations as well – and news sites, even.

The other musing is about Cloud Computers Gliding into 2o10.  I am working on a post about Cloud Computing that was going to be published in VentureBeat, but I’ll probably end up posting it here soon, esp efter Walt Mossberg published his review of Litl OS.

I’ll come up with my own point of view about Cloud Computing and why the Litl, for example, could have gotten a better review by Walt Mossberg.

Stay tuned.

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