Social networks love to cater to their more prominent users. Facebook, for example, creates unique experiences and apps just for celebrities. Now Twitter's upping the experience for its “VIP” tweeters. Those most precious of users are seeing no—or at least far fewer—ads in their timelines, according to Re/code.
What exactly constitutes a VIP is unclear, but the informal designation appears to factor in a person’s celebrity, tweet volume, and social reach. It’s likely those little blue verified check marks next to a user’s name are table stakes just to be considered for the ad-free experience.
Whether this is a trial program or a permanent feature is unclear. Re/code says CEO Jack Dorsey has been a fan of the ad-free experience for VIPs since the fall, when he was only the interim chief.
The story behind the story: What’s interesting about this potential “feature” is that it implies Twitter’s advertising strategy isn't great. It’s not like Twitter’s ads are that bad, really. The company tries to make its advertising appear just like any other tweet, but with a “promoted” tag underneath. It can get confusing, however, if you don’t notice the tag right away and spend a few seconds wondering when you started following that particular company or person. Nevertheless, Twitter does love its ads and has been showing them with increasing regularity.
Twitter may not want to offer all its users the ability to turn off ads, but going the ‘freemium’ route is not the worst idea ever. Tons of apps already charge a few dollars to remove ads—why not Twitter? Unlike ad-free apps that usually ask for a one-time payment, Twitter would have to offer a subscription model to make it work.
Even so, Twitter’s heaviest users might be interested in paying for an ad-free experience. If they aren’t getting it for free already, that is.