Yesterday, Twitter announced that it would no longer be permitting third party ads in the timeline. It struck me how similar this felt to when Apple recently changed their developer agreement, prohibiting apps that were cross-compiled using third party tools. Let's compare. First, the juicy part of Twitter's announcement:
As our primary concern is the long-term health and value of the network, we have and will continue to forgo near-term revenue opportunities in the service of carefully metering the impact of Promoted Tweets on the user experience. It is critical that the core experience of real-time introductions and information is protected for the user and with an eye toward long-term success for all advertisers, users and the Twitter ecosystem. For this reason, aside from Promoted Tweets, we will not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API. We are updating our Terms of Service to articulate clearly what we mean by this statement, and we encourage you to read the updated API Terms of Service to be released shortly.
Now, Steve Jobs' "Thoughts on Flash:"
Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.
Without Jobs' outspoken stance on Flash, I'm not so sure Twitter would've had the gumption to make this kind of a decision, one that could potentially alienate such a large swath of their developer base. But I respect them for doing it. It's a gamble, but one I think they'll win.
I'm starting to see a pattern in which companies are coming down really strongly in favor of user experience, even if it pisses off third party developers. User experience should always be the primary concern, and developers should agree. I can see how some developers may see this as another "Fuck You" from Twitter, especially because announcements like this usually and conveniently tend to favor the platform provider over the little guys in the ecosystem, but I think it's a move in the right direction. And they can certainly afford to make these kinds of wagers when they have so much inertia in their user base.
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- Twitter staking claim on ad revenue - blocks 3rd party ad platforms (inquisitr.com)
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- Twitter to Eliminate Third-Party Ads in User Timelines (mashable.com)
- Twitter Bans In-Stream Ads (readwriteweb.com)
- Twitter Bans Competition With Its Promoted Tweets (gigaom.com)