Twitter Business Model: Shopping?

Friday’s New York Times analyzes a quote from one of the VCs that has invested in Twitter. We learn that shopping and e-commerce might play an important in monetizing the social network’s product recommendation traffic:

Someday, when you ask your Twitter followers to recommend the most comfortable running shoe or the best digital camera, you might be able to go one step further and buy the product on the Twitter site.

E-commerce, including links to products and turnkey payment mechanisms, is a likely revenue stream for Twitter, said Todd Chaffee, a Twitter board observer and general partner at Institutional Venture Partners, which has invested in Twitter. (…)

Many companies are already on Twitter, monitoring what customers say about them and offering discounts and promotions to their followers. And many people use Twitter to ask for recommendations, like which type of gadget to buy or which movie to see. Since Twitter is already becoming one of the best shopping resources, Mr. Chaffee said, why not enable people to make purchases from the site as well?

“Commerce-based search businesses monetize extremely well, and if someone says, ‘What treadmill should I buy?’ you as the treadmill company want to be there,” Mr. Chaffee said. “As people use Twitter to get trusted recommendations from friends and followers on what to buy, e-commerce navigation and payments will certainly play a role in Twitter monetization.”

(seen in Mashable)

What it means: for Twitter, everything points in the direction of word-of-mouth monetization through shopping. E-commerce is a low hanging fruit given the strong existing affiliate program eco-system on the Web but the natural extension for Twitter will be local merchants (including services). And what is the equivalent of e-commerce affiliate programs for local? Possibly request-for-proposals and pay-per-call.

Update (June 22, 2009): Evan Williams, Twitter’s CEO, replied to the New York Times article and, according to ReadWriteWeb said “To be clear: Todd is a Twitter investor and a very smart and helpful guy. However, he is not actually on Twitter’s board and, in this article, he’s brainstorming on his own. These are not in the least bit concrete plans of the company.” I’m still convinced they will go in that direction. It’s a completely natural evolution, whether they want it or not… 🙂

If interested, follow me on Twitter at @sebprovencher

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What is Tuangou? CrowdShopping: The Next Hottest Segment in Local Search

Read on Springwise.com this morning:

The power of groups, the clout that crowds can exercise to get what they want, is nothing new. What is new, however, is the dizzying ease with which likeminded, action-ready citizens and consumers can now go online and connect, group and ultimately exert influence on a global scale. Our sister website trendwatching.com just published a briefing about crowd clout, and defines the trend as follows: “Online grouping of citizens/consumers for a specific cause, be it political, civic or commercial, aimed at everything from bringing down politicians to forcing suppliers to fork over discounts.”

A fun example of consumers aggregating their intended purchases to get a bargain is tuangou, or team buying, which involves strangers organizing themselves around a specific product or service. Think electronics, home furnishings, cars and so on. These likeminded consumers then meet up in real-world shops and showrooms at a coordinated date and time, literally mobbing the seller and negotiating a group discount on the spot.

Popular Chinese sites that are enabling crowds to first group online and then plan for real world shopmobbing are TeamBuy, Taobao and Liba. Combined, these sites now boast hundreds of thousands of registered members, making money from ad revenues and/or commissions from suppliers who are happy to have the mobs choose their store over a competitor’s.

So who’s going to introduce this concept in San Francisco, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Barcelona or Sydney? The PR value from being the first to do this outside China will be priceless. And may we suggest that the future founders turn it into a hybrid online/offline model, going for maximum reach and visibility?

What it means: This is the next disruptive local search application. Giving the power back to the user for local shopping. It’s RFQ 2.0. It also connects online & offline. Sounds familiar? If you’re operating a traditional local media company, you know what I’m talking about. You’ll obviously need a critical mass of local users to make this work but, if you’re in that space already, you already have one of the key elements of success. Make sure you’re already working on local merchant inventory as well to have product content in your site. BTW, if you like this topic, quickly jump to Trendwatching.com to read the article on crowd clout and read about other opportunities.

What is Tuangou? CrowdShopping: The Next Hottest Segment in Local Search

Read on Springwise.com this morning:

The power of groups, the clout that crowds can exercise to get what they want, is nothing new. What is new, however, is the dizzying ease with which likeminded, action-ready citizens and consumers can now go online and connect, group and ultimately exert influence on a global scale. Our sister website trendwatching.com just published a briefing about crowd clout, and defines the trend as follows: “Online grouping of citizens/consumers for a specific cause, be it political, civic or commercial, aimed at everything from bringing down politicians to forcing suppliers to fork over discounts.”

A fun example of consumers aggregating their intended purchases to get a bargain is tuangou, or team buying, which involves strangers organizing themselves around a specific product or service. Think electronics, home furnishings, cars and so on. These likeminded consumers then meet up in real-world shops and showrooms at a coordinated date and time, literally mobbing the seller and negotiating a group discount on the spot.

Popular Chinese sites that are enabling crowds to first group online and then plan for real world shopmobbing are TeamBuy, Taobao and Liba. Combined, these sites now boast hundreds of thousands of registered members, making money from ad revenues and/or commissions from suppliers who are happy to have the mobs choose their store over a competitor’s.

So who’s going to introduce this concept in San Francisco, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Barcelona or Sydney? The PR value from being the first to do this outside China will be priceless. And may we suggest that the future founders turn it into a hybrid online/offline model, going for maximum reach and visibility?

What it means: This is the next disruptive local search application. Giving the power back to the user for local shopping. It’s RFQ 2.0. It also connects online & offline. Sounds familiar? If you’re operating a traditional local media company, you know what I’m talking about. You’ll obviously need a critical mass of local users to make this work but, if you’re in that space already, you already have one of the key elements of success. Make sure you’re already working on local merchant inventory as well to have product content in your site. BTW, if you like this topic, quickly jump to Trendwatching.com to read the article on crowd clout and read about other opportunities.

Krillion: A New Local Product Inventory Platform

Krillion is a search engine that lets you find consumer appliances in stores near you. (…) Krillion lists the specific makes of fridges and other appliances carried at the stores near you, and that are in stock, thus giving you more direct help in your quest to find them. Eventually, Krillion wants to expand coverage to other categories, including consumer electronics, lawn and garden and seasonal appliances.”

“Interestingly, Krillion does not consider itself primarily a consumer destination. It strives to offer a highly usable consumer experience but Toledano (Krillion’s CEO) sees it largely as an advertising solution. (…) it solves “the last mile” problem for regional/national advertisers and manufacturers by directing consumers to where they can buy products in over 40,000 local markets. Accordingly, the business model is retailer and manufacturer advertising. (Krillion) aim to push out the content in SEO and through partner relationships to gain maximum distribution rather than relying heavily on building a consumer brand or destination. ”

(via VentureBeat and Search Engine Land)

What it means: This new company seems strangely similar to Stepup.com (who was recently acquired by Intuit). StepUp’s connection with Intuit is already a strong barrier to entry for new Local Shopping competition and the market is already pretty crowded (In addition to StepUp, Search Engine Land lists ShopLocal, NearbyNow, Yokel, CNET, Froogle, Become.com and data provider Channel Intelligence). Most experts (including me) agree that local inventory is the next Holy Grail in local search but it’s going to be a tough nut to crack.

Praized-Worthy today: Social Shopping Sites, Revenue-Sharing for User-Generated Content

this_next_logo.jpgSocial shopping sites in the New York Times: “They are as much about personal taste and online conversation as they are about buying itself, although no products are sold on the sites. They are also more elaborately designed, functional and interactive than regular chat rooms. Visitors can read about what’s popular and what’s hip in often surprisingly bright prose written by the visitors themselves. They can get ideas for their Christmas shopping lists, and store that information as bookmarks. They can find links to interesting, distinctive products they wouldn’t find in most storefronts. And they can become members and contributors, posting pictures and comments to describe themselves and the clothes, makeup, shoes, bags, electronics, games, movies and even dolls they think are worth a look.”

What it means: this “shopping list” of functionalities (no pun intended!) would fit well within any local search sites . Sites mentioned in the article include ThisNext.com, Stylehive.com, StyleFeeder.com and Crowdstorm.com.

User-generated content revenue sharing on ZDnet’s blog: “The overwhelming majority of video enthusiasts uploading content to Revver with expectations of fortune, however, will undoubtedly be disappointed. The advertiser-centric reality of Revver’s business model, coupled with its Pay Per Ad Click pricing model, yields little “action” for the typical amateur video fare.”

What it means: there’s still a lot of debate around the merits of paying users for user-generated content. And if you’re the creator stuck in the long tail, you might not get much out of it.