An Ad-free Twitter

Shawn Blanc, on Twitter providing an ad-free, paid tier:

But I am sure that option will never manifest. Because if Twitter offered an option to upgrade to an ad-free timeline it would hinder the sales of ads. The sheer virtue of the fact that a portion of Twitter’s user base was paying to not see ads would stand as proof that promoted tweets are not a part the ideal “Twitter experience”.

Moreover, it would mean that advertising partners would be buying ad spots that wouldn’t be guaranteed not to be seen by certain users. Of which those users would clearly be the most active and engaged.

If Twitter is going to sell ads they have to go all in.

This may indeed be Twitter’s thinking. I don't know what else might be in the minds of those that are now running the show. If so, I think they—and Shawn—are dead wrong and they're giving up a potentially lucrative revenue stream.

Twitter had 140 million active users as of March 2012 and is “expected” to bring in $540 million to $1 billion in ad revenue in 2014. Do the math: that's $7.14 per user, per year, using only today’s user base. That’s far less per user than they might earn if they charged, say, $50 per year for an ad-free experience.

I'm backing App.net (we're going to get a better name than that, right, Dalton?) for that aforementioned $50, but for me it's not about seeing ads (at least not at the moment.) I've enjoyed using third-party apps and services to access Twitter on my terms and Twitter's announced API changes mean that it’s very likely those apps and services will be either changed to conform to the new requirements or denied access. 

Whether for one of those reasons or another, there is a already a sizable number of Twitter users in the “most active and engaged” category who have also backed App.net. Time will tell if the model favoring users over advertisers is successful.