Glam Media on Tuesday launched an ad-supported service that allows users to aggregate conversations happening on Twitter, Friend Feed and Facebook based on keywords and events.
Called Tinker, the offering represents the latest attempt by a digital ad firm to leverage the growth of Twitter for ad purposes. Last week, Federated Media Publishing unveiled ExecTweets, a Microsoft-sponsored site that aggregates Tweets from top executives in a variety of sectors.
Unlike Glam Media's product, Federated Media and ExecTweets enjoy a financial relationship with Twitter: the micro-blogging service is receiving payment for its support of the service. Federated Media told ClickZ last week it expects to continue working with Twitter on sponsorship packages. Glam Media is working with Twitter on "technology integration," according to a spokesperson, but as of yet has no revenue-sharing deal.
Ryan Roslansky, SVP of products and programming at Glam Media, said the idea for Tinker came from an experiment Glam Media ran during the Oscars earlier this year.
"We did a test around the Oscars where for five hours we created and curated a feed of microblogging discussions" that centered on the awards show, Roslansky said. "We got sponsorship on that, and during that five hours there were 8,000 different conversations that happened on our module. It was a very successful idea."
Tinker works by scanning all feeds from Twitter and the other platforms for the keywords selected by its users, then aggregating them into a single news feed. Users can create their own conversations -- like "Super Bowl" or "Comic-Con" -- or choose to follow existing ones. The service is free for users, but they must register.
Advertisers can buy space against the conversations on Tinker just as they would on any Web-based ad network. Prices are determined on a CPM basis.
Of course, Twitter already allows users to scan for keywords, and is viewable by members and non-members alike. But Roslansky said Tinker offers a number of functions that make it more than just a glorified Twitter or Facebook search tool.
"When someone goes and creates an event, they have the opportunity to decide whether they want to pull conversations from the general population or just from certain distinct people," he said. "I could create a feed around the Super Bowl that only pulls from a handful of users who I know write for ESPN, and that could then be Super Bowl coverage as microblogged by ESPN."
Tinker also filters out tweets and status updates that are obscene or potentially offensive, a key component in making the service palatable to advertisers. Whether users decide that such filtering compromises the microblogging experience beyond an acceptable level remains to be seen.
The service does not work the same for all platforms, however. While all Twitter feeds are available for aggregation, users can only follow the Facebook feeds of people they are "friends" with on the site, because Facebook is password protected.
Glam Media is also establishing a "Micro-Publishers Network" for journalists, editors and other media professionals who express their intent to use one of the micro-blogging platforms to cover breaking news. The publishers will receive compensation in the form of "micro-payments" calculated based on the number of posts and page views.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014