Twitter Advertising: Project Non-Zero

Twitter Remember that project I was twittering about? It was called “Non-Zero”. Well, @loiclemeur just showed that it’s viable.

Loic is getting paid to get people to vote for something. What is being voted for and who these people are is relatively meaningless (to me at least, sorry @jberrebi, I’m sure it’s very meaningful to you to game the voting system. Nice work.). But the fact Loic is getting paid is huge.

Ok, backup. What the crap is “Non-Zero” again?

What I dubbed project “Non-Zero” was/is going to be a way to pay people to tweet things for you, specifically promotion of urls. The idea is that I could come to this site, select a price I’m willing to pay as an advertiser and enter in the url that I wanted people to land on.

That creates a marketplace.

Next, some twitterer/tweeter/person-who-uses-twitter would come to the market, register that they wanted to take up the offer and add it to a few tweets. Since the url would contain who the twitterer is, and the tweet itself would be archived, we could just pass the url through the marketplace, log that someone clicked on it, and record the transaction. That’s just simple PPC, just like Google Adwords.

There are a few tricks to this though.

#1. How do you stop people from gaming the system? Google has a hard enough time with it. What makes you think you can do better? The short answer is I don’t know. I have a few ideas of how to stop that problem, but I’m sure the hackers are smarter than me in this area since they’re smarter than Google too.

#2. You could fix it by doing CPA. True, this could help fix the system, but then again, there’s lots of ways to game that. A little more difficult, but still possible.

Anyway, not to get too far into the details, you get the point. It’s kindof a PayPerPost setup in a way, but smaller. I’m sure Arrington would call me evil for even thinking up this idea… but whatever. At least it would be press.

Now, the fact I’ve even posted this idea to the world is proof that I probably won’t do it. I haven’t decided if it was my moral boundaries, distaste for advertising (I don’t want to be the one who corrupts Twitter), or because I already have 6 side-projects to work on right now, and the 7th would probably kill me. But, at any rate, the idea is out there and we can watch to see who jumps on it and makes the millions thousands of dollars I probably would have if I weren’t so ADD

P.S. The project title, “Non-Zero” came from a book title which proposed that you can and we do have economics indicating not everything that has to do with capitalism is a zero-sum game. You can create markets, and the argument is that all markets, are in fact non-zero-sum games. We can discuss the philosophy behind this in another post sometime, but I love the idea.

[tags]twitter, advertising, marketing, ppp, pay per post[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in Austin, Texas (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

8 Comments on "Twitter Advertising: Project Non-Zero"

  1. nate says:

    Oh, and if anyone actually does want to work on this with me, I’d be happy to take you up on it. I’ve got lots of ideas, the ability to program it but not the time, and a sense of humor to boot. You’d like working with me on it, trust me. Ask the guys. I’m fun, no really.

  2. It’s interesting that the TOS doesn’t prevent this sort of operation. If I were Twitter, I would update the TOS to ensure that any such “pay for twit” systems were clearly identified with a hashtag that I could then add to my ‘block’ list. That way there is a clear opt-out and a clear signal that that tweet is an advertisement.

  3. nate says:

    That’s a great point. I didn’t even think of that.

    By law now, sponsored posts have to be indicated somehow. I suppose an #aff notation would work, or something like it.

  4. It’s true… Nate is fun to work with

  5. nate says:

    hah! Thanks for your endorsement! Cheers!

    (and a few more exclamation points just as a merry Christmas for all those marketers out there!!!)

  6. Julio says:

    What are the 6 projects you are working on?

  7. nate says:

    Hmm… great question Julio. Many of them I’m keeping under my hat for the time being, but here’s a few tastes.

    1. The name is hilarious, but that’s probably the most exciting part about this industry (construction, not prisoners).

    2. The photography book using Creative Commons photographs.

    3. Perfect Space. The ever-present project turned company.

    4. This will be a way for you to promote a cause you believe in and get support. Think (RED) Campaign without the crazy stupid cost of advertising and in the hands of the people.

    5. [mumble mumble]

    6. [mumble mumble]

  8. vanish says:

    really liked your posts…very informative . . .added to my favorite list of blogs

Read previous post:
How Many Five Year Olds Could You Take in a Fight?

28 The sad thing is, it probably only takes one 5 year old to beat me in a hacking contest,...